Another Trip Down Memory Lane

I was having a sort out a little while ago and came across an old photo of me in my school uniform. The photo brought back many a happy memory from times spent playing ‘It’ in the playground, to having friends round for a special treat of Ribena and fish fingers, to Bunty comic. Ah, Bunty.  There was something quite special about Bunty:

Bunty is the Best

“You can’t have Bunty. I have Bunty. You can have Mandy.”

My friend’s words chilled me. It was 1979 and we were both seven years old. At that grand old age I had grown out of Twinkle comic and was ready to move on.

I’d stood for ages at the newsagents, with Mum tutting beside me, as my eyes lit up at the array of comics on display – The Dandy, The Beano, Mandy, Bunty, Judy, Jackie (a bit too old for me at the time) and several others. Mum didn’t understand. To have a weekly comic was a wonderful treat. When Dad first bought me Twinkle when I was five, I’d fallen in love with it. The pages were bursting with colour, the stories (absolutely dire, of course, but brilliant to a young girl) dazzling and entertaining and then there was the cut-out doll, with cut-out clothes to dress her in. And her choice of wardrobe was mine, all mine. Well, all two outfits that is. But I loved her and I loved cut-out dolls.

So when the stories in Twinkle became too twee and ‘beneath me’, it was time to take the next step in comics for girls.

The Dandy and The Beano looked fun but more for boys. Mandy and Judy looked quite good but when I saw that Bunty had a cut-out doll every week, that was it. There was no contest – until I told my friend.

She was adamant. Bunty was hers and I wasn’t allowed to have it as well. I was so upset. I didn’t want Mandy, I wanted Bunty. I can’t quite remember how it was resolved. Perhaps our mothers sorted it out or maybe we sorted it out for ourselves as I started to take Bunty each week and my friend decided she preferred Mandy after all!

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the comic every week. Woe betide the paper boy if he brought it late. I would then settle down and read it from cover to cover. Thinking back to the story strips makes me wonder who on earth came up with the titles. Clearly someone who liked their alliteration. There was Catch the Cat, Tina of Tumbledown Towers, Sandra’s Sad Secret, Lessons from Lindy, In Petra’s Place, Donna’s Double Life and many more.  

My favourite story was The Four Marys. It’s arguably the most popular and well-known one running from when the comic was first launched in 1958 to its end in 2001. Reminiscent of Enid Blyton’s St. Clare’s and Malory Towers books, which centred around girls at boarding school, The Four Mary’s featured stories about four girls at St. Elmo’s Boarding School for Girls. I loved the scrapes the girls found themselves in but no matter what happened, it all ended well.

Once I’d devoured the stories, I then turned to the back page and to Bunty’s Cut-Out Wardrobe. I don’t know what it was about the cut-out dolls that I loved so much. I’d always loved playing with dolls houses and figures and making up stories. I had a Sindy doll but she only had a couple of outfits so perhaps that was it. Here was this young girl, albeit a paper one, with a different wardrobe every week. Money was tight in the 70s and I didn’t often have new clothes myself so that may also have been part of the appeal. Additionally, I was fascinated by the tabs on the clothes, which you had to fold around the doll (just squares of paper but to me they were ingenious).

Then there were the Christmas annuals. I always put the Bunty annual on my Christmas lists and over the years was lucky enough to find the 1980, 1981 and 1982 editions in my stocking.

Secondary school followed. At 11, Bunty and cut-out dolls were still very much part of my life. But I soon found out that they weren’t part of the other girls’ lives; it just wasn’t considered acceptable or cool to like either.

So my love affair with Bunty and cut-out dolls was over. I didn’t throw the comics and annuals away. I wasn’t ready to part with them just yet. Each comic and annual was placed lovingly in a pile in the bottom of my wardrobe and taken out for a sneaky read now and then. 

My weekly magazine (note the word change from the now considered babyish ‘comic’) became Jackie, then I ‘progressed’ to Smash Hits before Just Seventeen caught my eye. But none of them measured up to Bunty.

I don’t know what happened to those comics and annuals in the bottom of my wardrobe. I don’t remember ever getting rid of them. But they must have gone at some stage. Though I have found one. And, not only does it feature an extra length The Four Marys story, there is also a cut-out doll. But it’s no ordinary cut-out doll; it ‘s a special Cut-out and Colour Wardrobe cut-out doll. Heaven.






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38 Responses to Another Trip Down Memory Lane

  1. Alyson Faye says:

    Me too Esther. Loved Mandy and Bunty actually. Had Mandy annuals for years, read them to death. Can still remember some of the stories and the covers and just recently have revisited them (real nostalgia trip) as well as Misty. They seem so sweet now.

  2. Chris White says:

    There was something so magic about comics back then. For me it was the Beano and then the Eagle and the Hotspur. But I would have a sneaky peek at Bunty from time to time.

  3. Sue Vincent says:

    By ’79, I was four years married. But I remember Bunty…and the Four Marys… from many years before. I still have a bit of a soft spot for it, though I don’t recall the cut-out dolls. I did love them too though.

  4. Steve says:

    A great chronicle of memories that built your ‘person’, and help build your writing. And thanks to the internet, I saw some pictures of ‘your memories.’ 😉

  5. TanGental says:

    Ah yes I could wax lyrical about comics. They were a life blood. Dandy and Beano, sure, but the Beezer and The Eagle and Boys World and the Hotspur and… MAD and oh I don’t remember but I absorbed all I could get hold of. Certainly it was my way into reading, as were comic books like Tintin and Asterik. Thanks for a smile and a memory.

  6. Helen Jones says:

    I remember Bunty, and the wonderful cut out dolls! It was such a sadness if you accidentally cut off one or more of the paper tags when cutting out the clothes. And sometimes I’d make my own extra clothes for her. Then I discovered Misty comic – the stories were more spooky and fantasy based, which was definitely my cup of tea (and still is). I did move on to Jackie and Smash Hits eventually, but there was nothing like getting a comic and some sweets at the newsagents. Thanks for sharing your memories, and reminding me of mine xx

  7. Paul says:

    I remember many of these comics with a great fondness. The Dandy, Beano and Beezer were my favourites for a long time – maybe the free gifts from time to time attracted me in the first place? Mostly it was the characters or a particular comic strip within the pages that would keep me hooked and persuaded me to part with my hard earned pocket money.

    From there I moved on to the Buster and the Valiant before developing a liking for the American comics of the time – DC and Marvel. My sisters bought the Judy and the Bunty – I must confess to browsing those from time to time, and yes I do remember those cut-out dolls.

    Great memories!

  8. Thanks for sharing these memories, Esther. You’ve certainly taken everybody back to the days of comics. It was The Beano for me and the Annual was a big part of my Christmas. Do you remember the summer Annuals as well?

  9. As I read that I was horrified to realise that The Four Marys rang a bell with me. My only excuse can be that I had three sisters (still do, funnily enough), so at least one of them must have been a Bunty reader.
    I’m sorry to say that, whilst I wasn’t averse to reading comics, I never had a particular favourite, so my reading could be pretty arbitrary – Dandy or Beano occasionally, the odd Hotspur, a brief affair with Warlord (it was much grittier than most of the others) and forays into the worlds of Marvel and DC. Still, I have fond memories, but you know I’m not averse to nostalgia

    • esthernewton says:

      There’s nothing like bit of nostalgia. The Four Marys clearly made an impression on you, then! Though I must have also read a few other comics. I’m sure there was a Bully Beef character in one of them. It’s funny how the mind remembers some characters and not others.

  10. Helen says:

    Loved this trip down memory lane. I too absolutely loved the comics Twinkle, Bunty, Mandy, Judy, Jackie etc. I don’t remember Misty but since my Mum thinks Harry Potter is a wicked book she probably would not have allowed this. I was allowed Sindy and Pippa Dee dolls, but not Barbie. Even though I asked Father Christmas for a Barbie doll year after year, I never got one as my mother considered Barbie to be a bad influence. In the end, I got so fed up I gave my brother all my dolls and refused to play with them.

    • esthernewton says:

      What memories you have! Thank you for sharing this, Helen 🙂

      • Helen says:

        Interesting how much can get censored. I love reading about other people’s memories as it helps open up sealed off boxes. Smash Hits and Just 17 were deemed unsuitable. I didn’t know lots of TV programmes existed because my mother was so strict at turning the TV off as soon as we had seen whatever was allowed. I wasn’t even allowed to go and see the film Jaws with my friends because it was blasphemous. Thank you again for your lovely account Esther. Would love to read more of your memories. You have such a lovely way of telling things.

      • esthernewton says:

        Thank you so much for your lovely comments. That’s so kind of you to say and I’m glad you enjoy them so much.

      • Helen says:

        I do recollect the cut-out dolls. But I wasn’t always good with the scissors and would often cut tabs off in error. Or maybe it was because I couldn’t use proper scissors only blunt-edged ones. I had two younger brothers who might have cut their fingers with anything sharp! Still managed to do a great job on my hair though. Original punk look aged six. It’s too awful to post a picture.

      • esthernewton says:

        Oh no! The things we used to do!

  11. Sarah says:

    I do enjoy reading about your memories, Esther. 😀

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