When I was a kid I collected cards. They weren’t cigarette cards by then, with artists impressions of clean-living, square-jawed footballers, all looking like Roy-of-the Rovers.
No, by my childhood you found them mainly in packet tea. I collected full sets of British Wildlife, Birds of the World and Freshwater Fishes.
Most memorable for me though, were Flags of the World which you got with bubblegum. There’d be 80 or 90 in the set. On the back would be six or eight snippets of information about the country – its capital, currency, population, area etc.
My dad encouraged me to memorise all the capitals, which I did. (I probably remember most of them now – give or take emergent nations). He’d test me on them and I’d be near perfect but would always fall down on Honduras.
My granddad, who died when I was seven, used to take me down the Constitutional Club on a Sunday dinner-time and part-way though a conversation with his mates would bark at me, “What’s the capital of such-and-such?”. I’d tell him. I don’t recollect it now but I expect that he’d beam at his mates with a pride known only to grandads.
It’s still handy. It’s not often a quiz question on capitals catches me out – except, of course, Honduras.