I remember the day clearly: it was around ’96, the sky was overcast, my book bag had split and my trousers were torn at the knees. As I waited for my mum in the empty playground I knew the worst was to come. I paced about, trying to think of good excuses, but there weren’t enough excuses to cover a whole day of being a fucking toerag. I’d climbed up to the top of the rocky bank where the lizards lived and refused to come down, climbed over the fence in the playground when the rest of my class walked through the gate and shouted out ‘shite!’ when the teacher had asked for a word that rhymes with ‘might’. As I waited for my mum to finish talking to the teacher, my mind was already racing ahead to how my dad would react when he got back from work (lots of red in the face shouting, as it turned out). I didn’t get pocket money then so I wasn’t scared of losing that. What I did have to lose was the highlight of my week and, as my mum emerged from the school, her face a reflection of the sky, I knew it was all over. There was no way I was getting my Beano that week.
I collected The Beano for ages. In my parent’s kitchen there’s a picture of me with hundreds of them spread out over the living room floor. I was also a member of the Dennis the Menace fan club and my pride and joy was an old Beano from 1962 that I kept in a plastic wrapper. It was a strong and innocent relationship, between me and the old Beano but, eventually, we grew apart. The other day I decided to buy a copy and see what I’d been missing out on for the last decade or so. It took a while to find one and when I did I hardly recognised it. I knew that I, now aged 23, had changed, but how have Dennis and the gang changed? Well let’s have a look...
Dennis the Menace
Dennis first appeared in 1951 and in 1968 he got the top spot, replacing Biffo the Bear on the front cover. If we assume Dennis was about 10 when he first started cropping up in the pages, this would now make him 72 years old. Despite ‘Dennis’ still cropping up in the comic each week, the real Dennis has long since retired. Sadly, Gnasher and Gnipper passed on not long after Dennis’ retirement, while Curly and Pie Face settled down into jobs at the local Wotsit’s factory and lived long, but colourless lives.
After a rough period during the 1970s spend drinking with Mick Jagger and Michael Caine, Dennis checked into rehab. Sadly, the attempt to get sober didn’t stick and Dennis spiralled further and further into drugs. Dennis hit his low point after failing the Bond audition which landed Roger Moore the job. At this point Dennis started heavily using heroin, a habit which was intensified by a stint in Broadmoor. It was only with the death of on/off lover Mini the Minx that Dennis finally vowed to get clean. Dennis lives on and now has a special cane which can shoot peas at unsuspecting passersbys. Regarded as a twee relic by the youth of today (who prefer guns and knives to catapults and whoopie cushions), Dennis still attempts to be regarded as a ‘menance’. Interestingly, and against all the odds, his hair has retained its glossy black sheen.
Minnie The Minx
First appearing in 1953, Minnie would now be 70, had she not been killed in a tragic accident aboard Duran Duran’s yacht in 1982. It had been rumoured she had been having an affair with Simon Le Bon, a relationship which caused much animosity between Dennis the Menace and Le Bon. After first appearing in The Beano, it was not long before Minnie became a well known and well liked character. In the early 60s Minnie and Dennis the Menace were voted as the country’s most loved couple, a title which saw them being invited to BuckinghamPalace where they took tea with the young Queen Elizabeth II. Rumour has it Minnie and Her Majesty remained in regular contact.
Becoming disillusioned with Dennis’ partying and the London night scene, Minnie left for New York, where she modelled for Andy Warhol and began to experiment with acid. It was here she met Le Bon. Friends say this was an intense period of Minnie’s life where (inspired by her acid trips) she began to talk about founding a new religion. Sadly, this was to never come to pass. Her death remains a mystery. No body was ever found, only a red and black striped jumper, floating in the ocean.
The Bash Street Kids
After leaving BashStreetSchool, the Bash Street Kids set themselves up as a local gang, led by Danny. The gang prospered in the local area and even took on Teacher to be their accountant (after many threats). Sadly, this led to the suicide of Teacher, who held himself responsible for the monster he had created. Shortly after, ‘Erbert and Smiffy left the gang and set up a Bash Street estate agents, which went under when they could no longer afford to pay Danny the protection money. After six years of ruling Bash Street with razor blades and belt straps, all of the remaining Bash Street Kids were arrested and sentenced to various lengths of jail time. Only Fatty escaped on health reasons as by then he was clinically obese and required two full time nurses.
Upon finishing their time in jail, Plug, Sidney and Toots went on to honest jobs at the local ASDA, where they still work today. Spotty and Cuthbert dropped off the map, but are rumoured to be working as Parisian mimes. Danny is the only one of the Bash Street Kids to still be behind bars after striking up a friendship with prisoner Charles Bronson and challenging him to a competition over who could spend the most time in prison. Danny looks set to die behind bars.
Ivy The Terrible
First appearing in 1985, the now 32 year-old Ivy is a successful artist. Growing up as a child star, Ivy initially fell off the rails and began experimenting with hard drugs. A rumoured lesbian affair with Kate Moss took place in 2005 and furthered Ivy’s descent into narcotic dependency. For a long while she lived beneath a bridge in Camden and pick pocketed tourists for heroin money. A chance encounter with Billy Wizz convinced Ivy to turn her life around. She now lives in Canada with her husband Richard Branson and their four children. She spends her time painting and is happy.
Lord Snooty, now 85, had a long and happy run in The Beano from 1938-1991 when he took retirement. After losing his manor house in a bet over zepplin racing, Snooty was forced to return to The Beano for a few brief stints in the early 2000s. Rumour has it he was earning £250,000 per appearance. Snooty then managed to regain his fortune and expanded upon it by inventing instagram. He is in fantastic health and has many grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was also rumoured to have assisted in faking Minnie the Minx’s death.
First appearing in 1964, Billy quickly became a fan favourite. However, with the decline of his speed in mid-puberty, Billy began to supplement his ailing abilities with meth amphetamines. By 1970 he was addicted and was quietly dropped from the magazine. His savings diminishing, and no income available, Billy wandered about the country, earning money challenging people to races at county fairs.
By 1980 he was a bloated shell of his former self and was reduced to raiding bins behind restaurants for scraps of food. In the mid 1990s he was living a vagrant life in Camden. Feeling flush one night in early 2006, he purchased himself a prostitute. It was only afterwards he realised the young woman was his former colleague, Ivy the Terrible. Dismayed by what he had done, Billy took off running and has never been since. Whilst the experience quite possibly saved Ivy’s life, former friends say it is quite possibly Billy may not have been able to live with the guilt of sleeping with the young girl he once knew.
Little Plum Stealing Varmint has a tough time after he was dropped from The Beano for portraying an unfavourable stereotype of the Native American people. For a short while, he struggled with drink and gambling, before refusing to fall into the same trap which had claimed the lives of so many of his people. Little Plum knew there had to be more to life. He then decided on a new career path and has appeared as a Native American extra in all 3 of Johnny Depp’s cowboy films (The Brave, Dead Man and The Lone Ranger). Little Plum remains close to Depp who gave full blessing when Vanessa Paradis announced she would be leaving Depp for the former Beano star. Little Plum, now 70, leaves a peaceful life in Paris, Texas.
'Inside the tower block, time ticked slowly onwards. The man sat by the window as the light outside changed from grey to pink to red to a sallow yellow; the sun’s movements in unison with those of the clock that had slipped into double figures sometime ago. Occasionally, the man rose and looked out of the window, over the maze of the estate. He was able to make out figures moving below, but they were too far away for him to tell whether they spoke to each other or what they said.
The woman on the sofa slept peacefully. At one point in the grey dawn, a woman had entered the room carrying a suitcase in her broad hand. She smiled at the man and then knelt down by the woman on the sofa and injected her with something. She straightened up and emptied a brown paper bag onto a coffee table in the middle of the room. A collection of plastic pill bottles jumbled out.
“Make sure she takes one, two of these a day. They’re antibiotics and vitamins.” The man nodded. Then the woman picked up her suitcase, walked to the door and nodded at the man who had followed her halfway across the room.
“Make sure she gets some food,” she said and then she stepped through the doorway. As an afterthought she added, “Look after Zanna.”
Then Salema was gone.'
Read more here.