Books-Free Stuff For Kids.

Back in 1990 when I was 8 nearly 9, a book arrived in Sherdley County Primary schools library that unbeknown to us would bring great joy and postal gifts that entailed writing to various companies across the UK and for the price of a stamp, postal order or a sellotaped down 50p piece you would receive something back. This book would be passed around and taken home and lists would be made of the wondrous things to write off for all while eating your fish fingers and waffles, ready for Neighbours at 5:30pm.
Each week the book presented many possible outcomes where you could decide whether you wanted a Snooker Rules booklet, a joke shop catalogue, a glass bead necklace or a free car sticker with a monkey on. All just for writing a letter.

Free Stuff for Kids gave kids like me and others a reason to write proper letters, get excited about receiving proper post that was addressed to us personally and gave us all a chance to learn how to ask for things, visit the post office for a postal order or save up our pennies to swap for a 50p which would be carefully sellotaped to a piece of cereal box.

I had largely forgotten about the book until I searched for it on eBay. Quite a few popped up but I knew it had to have the red cover and be from 1990. I managed to find the exact one, put a bid in and thought no more of it really until it was won, paid for and arrived.

This was all until I opened it and 8 year old me reappeared from upstairs with her best pens and paper, eager to write and ask for a postcard about badgers, a booklet about pond life and a Green Cross Code poster to put on my wall.

What if I decided to recreate this but in my now 36 year old world? What if I started from the beginning, one page a week, writing letters to ask for long forgotten items just to see what would happen?

Would all the companies still exist? Would I get a reply or my letters thrown in the bin or returned? The original offers in the book were to be honoured until July 1992. It isn’t 1992 anymore and would they even remember or care for such letters arriving? I decided that I have to give it a go and complete the book as I would have done back then, following the same instructions and hoping for the best. I won’t check online to see if anyone included is still trading as that would be cheating and 1990 didn’t allow for this on the school BBC Acorn.

To make it proper I will post the page of each original contributor I have written to and the letter I have sent so that you can see it and then when or if we get a reply I will post that as well.

I would really love it if you joined me on this ludicrous writing adventure, maybe have a go yourself or just pity me for trying to recreate something that was ‘THE BEST THING EVER’ when your 8 years old.


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