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Pickle Me This

March 3, 2007

Dashed hopes

In the midst of Mini Pops nostalgia, I remembered how I’d once longed to join their fan club. I don’t think I ever followed through, but thinking about this led me to remember one of the great disappointments of childhood– ads and offers in the backs of books.

As a small child, these appeared as invitations toward engagement with the outside world, and they seemed irresistable. Do you remember the scheme in Archie comics where you signed up to sell something (it was never clear what) and you could win points toward a new bike, a skateboard, or a tent? These marvelous full-colour images of everything you ever wanted. You could be an entrepreneur at the age of seven! Though I was never taken in. My parents wouldn’t let me do it.

Stuart told me today about how he wrote away to join the Beano club when he was five, and was promised “two badges and a newsletter or something”. His mum and dad helped him get the postal orders necessary, but he never heard back from Beano.

I had better luck with the Eric Wilson Mystery Club, though by the time I got my newsletter, years had passed and I wasn’t that interested anymore.

Part of the problem was that books tended to age, and it was always disappointing to see that the offer for ten books for a nickle had expired in 1963. Very very sad.

But nothing was as sad as when I wrote away to join “The Puffin Club”. I’ve got a copy of the ad on hand: “You will get a copy of the Club magazine four times a year, a membership book, and a badge.” The opportunity of a lifetime, I thought. And I heard back quite promptly, raising my hopes to the moon. But there would be no membership for me, in the end. They told me Canadian children weren’t eligible and I was absolutely gutted.

And so there would be no outside world for me for a number of years yet.

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