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Three generations of Buccaneers

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A memorable family occasion
Brian Aldiss Writer
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I was also able to buy a car. I bought a Renault Dauphine – the worst car ever made! You could travel safely at 35 miles an hour, but if you tried to up it to 40, the whole car would go flaznagel, and turn around in the road and do ape-like, childish things – terrifying! So I went down to the Isle of Wight in that, and the idea was I would bring the children up to Oxford. So I sold it on the spot and bought another car and brought the children up to Oxford and… to my little house in Marston Street.

Now, here if you don't mind, I want to go back a few years to that Christmas before World War II broke out when, as I've think I've said, the family took me for a final Christmas in Peterborough, to all my dear uncles and aunts, and my grandmother. And that was very nice. He drove us back to Gallstone, and as we went down Bernard Road, we were stopping the car and I could see our house, and on the door, attached were presents – obviously Christmas presents that they couldn't properly deliver, and so they'd tied them to the outside of the house. And one was wrapped more or less oblong and the other one was sort of like a short pole. And so I shouted from the back of the car, 'Oh, it's Buccaneer!' And my father, from the driving seat said, 'Well, don't be so stupid. How do you know what it is?'

But I did bloody well know what it was, because my sister and I had seen Buccaneer, a Waddington game, and maybe we had played it once or twice with friends. And so it naturally consisted of a box that contained the ships and cars and things, and, rolled up, the map of Treasure Island and the seas around it and the ports around the seas.

So, I was perfectly correct. And so, when we went into the house, I said, 'Oh good, yes, well here's Buccaneer'. And that's all I ever said, and my father said nothing.

Brian Aldiss (1925-2017) was an English writer and anthologies editor, best known for his science fiction novels and short stories. He was educated at Framlingham College, Suffolk, and West Buckland School, Devon, and served in the Royal Signals between 1943-1947. After leaving the army, Aldiss worked as a bookseller in Oxford, an experience which provided the setting for his first book, 'The Brightfount Diaries' (1955). His first science fiction novel, 'Non-Stop', was published in 1958 while he was working as literary editor of the 'Oxford Mail'. His many prize-winning science fiction titles include 'Hothouse' (1962), which won the Hugo Award, 'The Saliva Tree' (1966), which was awarded the Nebula, and 'Helliconia Spring' (1982), which won both the British Science Fiction Association Award and the John W Campbell Memorial Award. Several of his books have been adapted for the cinema. His story, 'Supertoys Last All Summer Long', was adapted and released as the film 'AI' in 2001. His book 'Jocasta' (2005), is a reworking of Sophocles' classic Theban plays, 'Oedipus Rex' and 'Antigone'.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: car, Christmas, presents, father, game, children

Duration: 3 minutes, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2014

Date story went live: 17 August 2015