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Tuesday 20 November 2012

Prismatic Reflection

    I was asked just the other day, in an email, just when was it that I began writing about ‘the Prisoner? Well I thought about the question for a few moments. It was in 1988, and it was a very brief letter published in Number Six magazine which was the Prisoner Appreciation Society magazine at the time. This is the letter,
 not very impressive I know, it's not even directly concenrd with 'the Prisoner. So here is my second letter ever written. Address and names tipexed out for reasons of privacy.
 Well you have to understand that back then I didn’t know ‘the Prisoner’ as well as I do today. And it was my first letter to the magazine 'Number Six,' to any magazine in fact. It was amazing {god I hate that word} to see it published. It was also a proud moment for me. I was delighted to see that the editor of the magazine had seen fit to publish it. What’s more I was encouraged by that, and began to write other simple letters to the magazine, and to my astonishment, they too were published, along with short articles. In fact as someone in the society remarked, there are few issues of either Number Six or In The Village magazines which do not contain letters from one David Stimpson. And sometimes more than one letter. Sometimes two or three in the same magazine! I recall how one member of the society complained, he complained about me, and the number of times my letters and articles were being published in the society magazine. I asked the fellow had he written any letters or articles for the magazine, and had he submitted any? He told me that he had not. Furthermore he said that he didn’t want to write any letters or articles for the magazine! So my next question was an obvious one……why the hell was he complaining? It’s like that sometimes. You get the people who do, the people who do not, and those people who simply want to complain about those who do!
    I have, in my time written for a number of what we are pleased to call ‘Local Group’ newsletters and magazines. One of which was called ‘Free For All.’ I say was, because the magazine is no longer in existence. In fact the editors were so pleased with my contributions to the magazine, that they gave me my own regular column, and that I could name it myself. So my wife and I put our heads together and came up with the title Prismatic Reflection. Why that title? Well it seemed appropriate, because I was writing about all things to do with ‘the Prisoner’ and that was reflected in my column.
    And then one day suddenly my services were no longer required! My column was superfluous to requirements. It would seem that there was a new face that had taken the editor’s eyes. It was just after I had submitted what was to be my last Prismatic Column for ‘Free For All,’ when I was asked why it was I was writing articles about ‘the Prisoner,’ when there were so many millions of people starving to death in Africa? I replied because it was you who had asked me to do so. I know that the situation in Africa at the time was a terrible thing, it still is today. But what I couldn’t understand at the time, was what had the situation in Africa to do with a magazine, which had it’s basis connected with a fictional television series, for which I had been writing?
    But at the end of the day, it’s the readers who suffered, the lack of my material. Anyway if it had lasted another couple of years that would have been the most. Why? Because the editors fell out with ‘the Prisoner,’ and for some unknown bizarre reason turned their attention to Laurel and Hardy! And in the end there comes a time when you have to move on. Onwards and upwards, isn’t that what they say? Oh I’ve had my moments, I was once a contributor to The Manchester Guardian. I bet that’s impressed you, don’t be, because it wasn’t the actual Manchester Guardian. But another quarterly newsletter about ‘the Prisoner.’ Although it was produced in Manchester, and a Mancurian was it’s editor.
    They were the good old days of appreciation for ‘the Prisoner.’ Something would come out in the press about ‘the Prisoner,‘ or Portmeirion, or Patrick McGoohan and I, or someone like me, wanted to be the first to send a copy to the editor of a ‘Prisoner’ based newsletter or magazine. It was the sense of pride at achieving that, as well as seeing what you had sent in in the newsletter or magazine. You see back in those days, even up into the late 1990’s, there was always something appearing in newspapers or magazines about ‘the Prisoner.’ Even if it was some company or other using ‘the Prisoner’ in an advertising campaign, which happened more frequently than you might imagine. And I used to collect it all, and put any press cutting I found to do with ‘the Prisoner,’ Portmeirion, or Patrick McGoohan, in files marked ESCAPE. But not so much these days, well there aren’t so many newspaper or magazine articles floating about, about ‘the Prisoner.’ Do you know. an article once appeared in Playboy magazine in the 1980’s. And in TITBITS magazine here in Britain, in the 1970’s I think it was, a copy of which appeared on eBay recently.
     Anyway, here I am today writing very successful blog about ‘the Prisoner.’ And I’m amazed at how far I have come, and I’m delighted to have been able to give my old column a new lease of life within my blog. The thing is, I can’t find a way out of this one. I cannot find an ending…….isn’t that what McGoohan once told Lew Grade in his office? Perhaps that’s what Patrick McGoohan wanted, what we all want ultimately……to escape!

I’ll be seeing you next time.

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