I slowly shuffled up to the newsagents counter. My nerves peaked as I stepped closer and saw it was an attractive young girl serving. I’d kind of hoped it would be a man – at least he’d better understand my need for the material I was about to purchase. The fact I could see it’s garish cover nestling on the shelf behind her only made this harder.
I felt a bead of sweat on my brow and my throat tighten as I stood up to the counter. A young mum and her son walked past. I paused for an instant, not wanting to embarrass myself as I purchased this ‘dirty’ material.
“Hi.” I stammered, trying to avoid eye contact. “Can I take this please?” I placed the respectable magazine on the counter. By buying that as well I hoped it would distract her from my next purchase. “Oh and can I take a packet of Doctor Who stickers please…. Um, actually, make it five packets.”
There. I did it. She smiled sweetly and dealt out the small packets and I quickly hustled out of the shop. I hoped she thought I’d be buying them for a son or nephew then I realised that by also purchasing ‘Battlestar Galactica Magazine’ in the same transaction that I was obviously a geeky science fiction fan.
Ok, ok. I’m 26 years old and I’m collecting Doctor Who stickers. It’s tragic isn’t it? But I confess there was still that twinge of excitement when I ripped open the packet and found I had a foil sticker – not any foil either. It was one of a Dalek! There was the bitter sting of disappointment when I found I had quite a number of swaps too.
It’s been well over a decade since I last collected stickers. I think the last time I did this was for Star Wars Tazos – but at least you had to buy crisps for those – it wasn’t painfully obvious I was actually collecting them. I never intended to collect the Doctor Who album, it’s the Radio Times’ fault. They gave away a book for free.
Tomorrow I will go through it all again. The nerves as I go into the newsagents. I have a plan though. Tomorrow I will buy a copy of The Times too – she’ll never know the stickers are for me then.
Well. I hope not.
PS – Don’t suppose you’ve got number 143 have you?