Fan club nostalgia

Listening to the radio today, someone mentioned being in the ELO fan club when they were 13 years old.

I think the first fan club I was ever in was either the Ladybird Book fan club or the Young Puffin Club. I was in both but can’t remember which came first. The club would send birthday cards to members and I remember Ladybird and Puffin cards adorning the mantle piece at the same time so there must have been at least some overlap.

Around the ages of eleven or twelve I joined the Dennis the Menace Fan Club. This involved clipping a credit-card-sized application form out of the pages of the Beano and sending a postal order for 50p. In exchange, you would receive an enamel Dennis the Menace badge and a furry Gnasher badge and a weird little plastic wallet, presumably intended for top-secret membership documents. Presumably, since 50p granted an unending membership, I’m still a member of this club!

A little later (ages fourteen to seventeen), I joined the Red Dwarf fan club, which would award you with a signed photograph of the cast, an enamel badge and four copies of a fanzine called Better Than Life over the course of a year.

These days I wouldn’t dream of ‘joining’ anything. I’m simply not a joiner any more and I wondered what psychology caused me to join these fan clubs as a child and as a teenager. The idea of loving something so much that I would clip out an application form and send away a postal order for 50p seems very alien. Is this because information moves much quicker now thanks to the Internet? Or is it because I/we simply don’t love anything so uniquely these days because so much more is available?

I think there is something in the information theory: the occasional updates by post were the only way of hearing about new developments. Today, you just get everything piped in via RSS or salve your curiosities in seconds with a quick Google search.

I’m not trying to make a point exactly, but there is something very lovely about the papery and analogue effort of ‘sending away’ for something and waiting patiently for it to arrive. Maybe I’ll set up a New Escapologist fan club with a PO Box address and exlusive badges and newsletters that can only be obtained by writing in.

Do you have any other fan club memories?


Robert Wringham is a humorist and the editor-in-chief of New Escapologist.

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