My adoptive father frequently told me toward the end of his life that he had tried to teach me the value of money. I remember going over the hill at Mount Lewis to buy him cigarettes when I was five or six. I think a packet of B & H cost about two shillings then. I would help him around his garage.

Around this time he started giving me two shillings a week pocket money and when I bought the cigarettes for him I would buy comics for myself. Two shillings would buy a lot of comics in those days. I learned to work safely around cars, to keep out of the way when a motor was hanging from the ceiling, and to keep out of his light and to hand him his tools. Later I was able to lift up small cars while he was under them fixing things.

Ten years later, apart from some skills with cars, I had runs of all the Marvel comics from 1 to 100. To give you an example of what they were worth, an Avengers 15 sold for a quarter of a million dollars a couple of years ago. When I left home my father gave away the whole collection to the Carlingford Boys’ Home. I didn’t mind because I had played soccer with them and saw the cruel conditions they lived under: loneliness and the barracks being the norm of their existence.