The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

… and how I lost my birthday money.UNCLE pic

As a child I loved the TV programme The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  Illya Kuryakin and Napoleon Solo were my absolute heroes. Each episode excited and entertained to the full as they battled those evil enemies from T.H.R.U.S.H.

Even now I remember that T.H.R.U.S.H. stood for The Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity. I almost don’t want to see the film – just out – in case it fails to meet my expectations.

But not all my memories of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. are fond. There is the small matter of how I was made to part with my birthday money.

I came across an ad – in my weekly comic I think – inviting me to join The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Club. How could I resist? Even if the joining fee was rather steep.  £1 in the late 1960s was a lot of money for a child. It was the entire amount that a very generous aunt had just sent me for my birthday. But, I told myself, it will be worth it. Imagine being part of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Club. A secret agent. All those codes and gadgets. Well worth the investment of all my birthday money.

I posted the form and the precious pound note and waited eagerly. Eventually it arrived. The letter. Welcoming me to my new status as a Member of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Club. I raced through the letter to discover my first assignment. Living in a sleepy village in the heart of Worcestershire, I did appreciate that there might not be too many T.H.R.U.S.H. agents around for me to conquer. But some essential combat training, whilst mastering all those codes and gadgets, would be just fine.

The letter explained all. The essence of being a secret agent was … secrecy. So it was vital that I kept my new status totally secret until I was called upon for active service. Above all – and this was very important indeed – I must not under any circumstances try to contact The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Club. If I did, my cover could be blown. I had to sit tight – in secrecy and silence – and wait for them to contact me.

I waited and waited … until I finally realised that all I was going to get in return for my birthday money was that single letter. No call would come. Not even a book or a badge to be had.  Whoever had come up with that clever little con was onto a real winner – not least as secrecy was part of the plan. I’m sure the adorable Illya Kuryakin would not have approved. I could only conclude that it was the work of T.H.R.U.S.H.

I still await my revenge.  And that call.

© Allison Hill, 2015 (excluding images)

13 thoughts on “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

  1. christine penny

    Think hard little sister! An advert in a paper in 1960 cost £-2s-0p.
    To join Uncle £1.
    It must have been sent by the Chief Member of the Hierarchy!!!!
    Bigs sisters intials then?????
    £0-18s-0p in Chief Member of the Hierarchy s

    well its a good story!
    But not IMPOSSIBLE??

  2. I also loved the programme and must go and see the film. I can just picture you with mac and satchel full of gadgets, aged 5ish skulking about the village gathering information to defeat the dastardly evil THRUSH, ( when all you needed was a pot of yogurt)

  3. Vicky Wellington

    I love the story and have a similar experience when as a young teenager in the early seventies I paid a whole £1.00 to join the Georgie Best Fan Club! A few weeks later I received a letter telling me the Fan Club had gone bankrupt……………I never received my signed photograph from gorgeous George or my pocket money back!

  4. That is fantastic. Yes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but has to go up there with the ‘choose the sex of your baby’ con. It goes like this. “Choose the sex of your baby. Send $1000. Money back guaranteed.” You pay, you get two pills. A blue one and a pink one obviously. If it doesn’t work … well they send you your money back. One for my retirement. Bxx

  5. The Man from Uncle was also a childhood favourite of mine. My father made me a communications device to match those used by Napoleon and Ilyia – it was a piece of wood with Channel D clearly marked and it was placed in an Embassy cigarette packet – it just fitted into my top pocket and I was so proud of it!! (And it cost me nothing!)

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