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In 2015 I was asked to contribute an article on my collecting for “Autograph News UK”, The journal of the British Autograph Club. This is my contribution that appeared in their November/December 2015 issue.


WHERE DO YOU LIVE AND WHAT IS YOUR OCCUPATION?

I Live in Lee-on-the-Solent, which is a village on the Gosport peninsula, between Portsmouth and Southampton. I just have to walk to the end of my road and I have a wonderful view across The Solent to the Isle of Wight. I’m Assistant Manager at a petrol station with a large convenience store in Lee.

CAN YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST AUTOGRAPH AND WHEN YOU BEGAN COLLECTING “SERIOUSLY”?

I first started collecting autographs when I was about 7 or 8, although I didn't see it as a collection, merely writing to people I liked. I wrote to Shakin' Stevens and Glenn Hoddle first and following replies from them, a couple of other Spurs players. I soon lost interest in the writing but was lucky enough to meet some other Spurs players at a Junior Spurs Christmas Party at White Hart Lane. My next success was when Southampton Bad Boy Mark Dennis came to my Primary School to present our Football Team with its league medals. Over the next few years I was fortunate enough that my Mum worked with a woman whose Son was on Pompey's books and he got me the autographs of most of the squad and subsequently both my Mum and I worked with a lady whose Nephew was Spurs player David Howells and between them I got signed programmes from many Spurs players, including Gazza and Gary Lineker.

Being a proud nerd I have always been interested in getting autographs from people I like but I only really decided that I would start collecting properly in the early noughties. Initially it was entirely built up of purchases from Ebay, then I decided to try writing and have had a number of great successes TTM. However, lack of time means I am currently not writing requests. I now (mostly) limit my Ebay purchases to a couple of trusted sellers due to the number of fakes/preprints that are sold as genuine.

In 2005 I was made redundant from my job at the Post Office and decided to blow some of my redundancy on doing something I'd always fancied doing, going to a signing show. I went to Collectormania 7 at Milton Keynes and was instantly hooked. I have since been to nearly every Milton Keynes Collectormania and London Film and Comic Conventions. These are now the primary source for my collecting. I would love to do more IP collecting but my work prevents it as my shifts often involve either early starts (6am) or late finishes (anywhere between 7 and 10pm). However, for the last few years I have spent a few days up in London going to the Theatre and meeting the cast at the stage door afterwards.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE PRIZED ITEMS IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Difficult to say. A lot of them are because of memories gained from getting them signed, so my signed Legally Blonde programme instantly reminds me of Sheridan Smith kissing me, one of my signed Natalia Tena photos reminds me of her running up to me and giving me a huge hug as I was wearing her band T-shirt (I’m sensing a pattern here!) various other items remind me of conversations that I enjoyed. On top of that I have all the Bonds, all the living Doctors and all the Pythons which are all special to me.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN AREAS OF YOUR COLLECTING INTEREST?

I collect across many areas, but only people who have an importance for me, either through enjoying their work, appreciating their achievements or just fancying the pants off them! My main interests are James Bond, Buffy/Angel, Doctor Who/Torchwood, Game of Thrones, Music and Comedy. With series like Doctor Who or Buffy I only tend to collect major characters/behind the scenes people, partly for monetary reasons but mainly because I feel that they are the ones who have made me enjoy the show, many of the lesser roles could have been played by anybody and the show/film would have been no less enjoyable, let’s face it, anybody could be in a Stormtrooper outfit and (apart from the one who bumped his head) the film would be exactly the same. That said I don’t have any problem with people who do collect absolutely everybody, each to their own!

WHO WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO MEET IN PERSON TO GET THEIR AUTOGRAPH?

Although I go to the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton a lot, I don’t tend to go to the Stage Door afterwards as I usually have family in tow and they want to get home, so my annual London excursion and my trips to the Signing Shows are my only real opportunity for IPs. Also, if I’m in London and see a celebrity out and about I won’t bother them, it’s their personal time and they are entitled to it as much as anyone else.

My realistic “dream meets” are Glenn Hoddle, Danny Baker and Paul Merton (all heroes of mine), Sarah Michelle Gellar, Eliza Dushku and Alyson Hannigan from Buffy and Christopher Eccleston since he is the only living Doctor I haven’t met. On top of that I’d love for Keira Knightley to do a signing show. She is my favourite actress and has been since before she did Pirates and I have some TTMs from her and have met her at the Stage Door after seeing both her West End plays but they were rushed meetings in a crowd of people with a squiggle signature. I’d love the chance to have a proper meeting with her and a photo shoot.

WHO WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO GET AN AUTOGRAPH FROM THROUGH THE MAIL?

Since I’m not currently sending TTM requests out at the moment all I can say is any of my old requests that I’ve never had a reply from.

WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY ABOUT AUTOGRAPH COLLECTING AND WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT ANNOY YOU?

If anybody asked me what it is about autographs that make me want to collect them then I couldn’t really give a firm answer. It’s partly that I like the aesthetics of them, partly that it is a connection with the signer, partly that I’m a collector by nature (I have over 3000 DVDs and a similar number of CDs). The thrill of IP collecting is obvious, meeting somebody who you like.

I guess my annoyances are the usual in this hobby; Fakers, including stars who use autopens, preprints or secretarials; Rude dealers at stage doors who think they are more important than genuine fans and people who think that celebrities owe them an autograph, if somebody doesn’t want to sign, for whatever reason, that is their right.