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?

About

Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at www.wringham.co.uk/about.

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