Thursday, March 10, 2011

I, Smocker by Eugene Lumbers.

I, Smocker by Eugene Lumbers.  Hardcover book published 1971.

The cogs were working hard the day I spotted this book.  Smocker… it seemed so familiar, but long forgotten… sort of back in the mists of time… something… Smocker… and even now I can barely remember anything at all about this book.  What I do remember is that it had something to do with my primary schooling and I clearly remember that Smocker was a cat and that is it.  Another indicator other than my dodgy memory which helped clinch the purchase was the front of the dust jacket which reads “As heard on A.B.C. Radio”… maybe I heard it on the radio.  I’ve now had this book for a few weeks and it’s still all a bit vague.  What I do know is that a quick search of my regular references on the www has produced nothing.  A slightly broader search and there are a few references but nothing concrete and none for sale.  There is another Smocker title listed by Lumbers entitled Smocker Takes Off (1972) and there are a number of these for sale.  So how rare is this book?  Well, if there are none for sale… then very rare.  In this instance if I can remember Smocker… even barely… then surely others will as well…


  1. Paul Perry (AllSorts Books Northcote)March 14, 2011 at 5:49 AM

    It looks as though anyone who has two Smocker books, has the complete set.
    "(the late) freelance writer Eugene Lumbers wrote/adapted a number of works for ABC children's radio and television, including Who's Robbing This Coach? and the science fiction series Andra (from the novel by Louise Lawrence). He contributed to the series Diamonds of Death and Traditional Folk Tales from Around the World. His A Taste for Blue Ribbons and his two Smocker books were based on popular ABC radio programmes. Lumbers also published The Art of Pro Hart and Pro Hart's Silver City ."

  2. I have a copy of both books as I read it to my classes after hearing it on ABC radio. The readings were hilarious with Nasty Neighbour Norton's nasty nasal voice and Colette ze French poodle being the ultimate sexpot and Patrick the Irish terrier with his annoying Irish accent. Then of course there was Smocker the absolute smartalec who seemed to get away with everything.

  3. Thanks Anonymous for your comments. Its funny that i still can't remember the details... but i do remember enjoying it. It sounds like it was a real hoot, which is probably why something has lingered in my memory.
    All the best

  4. I read the first book (didn't know there was a second!) in primary school too. It was set in the 'burbs, Smocker was a British Blue and the narrator. His best mate was Patrick, an Irish terrier, I think, who was always having to get Smocker out of his messes. Oh and Smocker's granny was a witch. Great story!

  5. I still have my copies of I Smocker and Smocker Returns. We used to listen to the ABC Radio reading when were kids and I remember my absolute excitement when I was given the books for Christmas. I named my first cat - a ginger tom, not British Blue, after Smocker.

  6. Patrick was an Irish setter, not Irish terrier.
    I remember Norton's threat to his enemy, Smocker: "Pow! Moonee Valley!" but I never understood why. I don't think Smocker understood, either.

  7. Listened to this on ABC. My children loved Smocker - great cat.

  8. Eugene Lumbers is my father. We loved Smocker and Patrick and Nasty Neighbour Norton and as for Moonee Ponds (not Valley) -it sounded so far away.
    My grandchildren have read them and in fact my son-in-law found your website.
    It is a wonderfu compliment to my father that his stories are remembered with such affection

  9. A bit of a late response, but this was read on ABC breakfast radio Melbourne by the late Peter Evans in the early 1970's. We still vividly remember listening over our Wheaties as newlyweds! :)

  10. Thanks everyone, for your wonderful posts. Such great memories of hearing the stories on The Childrens' Hour and Peter Evans' breakfast program.
    I recently spotted a copy of A Taste for Blue Ribbons in a second hand book shop and loved reading it after all these years. The reason I found your site is that I was looking for a sequel -- from my memory of the radio version I was sure there was more to come. (Honour Bound perhaps?)
    I had no idea that Eugene Lumbers wrote
    not just one of my favourite childhood radio serials, but two. I used to quote Patrick when telling my kids how much I loved the Smocker stories. Patrick's mum drummed into him: "Human orders must be obeyed at all times without question". A ridiculous notion according to Smocker.