Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Nostalgia & Comics & me ... part 1

I started work at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham's best comic shop, in July 1987.

I finished there at 6pm September 30th 2006.

19 years isn't bad for a Saturday job is it?

The final day was an emotional one and the truth is that it hasn't really sunk in yet, but as soon as we knew we were off to Yorkshire I knew the end was in sight.

When I started I was 16.
Just finished my O levels and looking for a job to see me through the summer.

But my association with the shop goes back a few years before that.
Mom & Dad used to drop me off there for two hours every couple of months to wander around, loving everything I could see.
I remember vividly the first time I ever set foot in there.
14 years old and I'd seen an advert for the place in an old Marvel Mag.
The sheer scale of it was incredible, all these comics, all for me!
Of course, back then, my tastes didn't extend further than the Marvel heroes I found on the news-stand, Hulk, Spider-Man and later, the X-Men. But Nostalgia had everything I needed.
I loved my trips to Birmingham to go to the comic shop and would save as much as I could towards each bi-monthly visit.

Of course, when I finished my O levels and was looking for a job, I thought of asking at the shop, but in the end couldn't do it. Far too shy.
So my dear old Dad made the phone call for me.
Phil Clarke, the owner at the time, told Dad that we did need someone to sort the basement out and it would probably take the summer.
(It did. And many summers and Saturdays hence. I think I officially declared it finished to my satisfaction sometime in 2003).

I can still remember my first day:
Standing outside the shop and being too shy to even say hello to any of the staff I was standing with. Sue Williams, one of the directors, asked me if I was okay and made me feel welcome when I eventually blurted out who I was.
Going down to the basement and being amazed at the size of it and the inhuman levels of mess down there. Comics, magazines and stuff everywhere.
By the end of my first day I'd managed to clear some workspace and had organised the Heavy Metals and Epic Illustrated into several huge piles on a cabinet. It was a start.
I worked there for the entire summer and loved every moment of it.
Of course, I never actually finished the basement, but my anally retentive, obsessively tidy personality managed to inflict some order.
Enough that Phil Clarke offered me a Saturday job shortly afterwards.

It's a Saturday job I've done for the majority of my life.
It quickly became the norm for me to head off to Nostalgia every Saturday. A six day week was simply what I did. When I was a student it was work 5 days a week, then fun on Saturdays at Nostalgia. And since I stayed in Birmingham for University, I spent most vacations there as well.
It was never a job, more a labour of love, a hobby that paid me instead of me paying it. Fantastic.

And in leaving Nostalgia & Comics I think I've left the best job I'll ever have.
Hopefully I'll be proved wrong in my future endevours, but it was easily the best job I've had so far in my life.
No matter how much fun I've had at Lordswood Girls or Smiths Wood working as a technician, they were always jobs.
Nostalgia never was a job.
I had friends there, not workmates.
I'll miss it terribly.

Nostalgia & Comics

Just click on the Nostalgia & Comics & Me category to get all of the relevant posts and a few extras.

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