Sometime around 2002/3? ish, Nostalgia & Comics is now Nostalgia & Comics (a Forbidden Planet International associate store - but we certainly weren't advertising that little fact and I'd warrant most of our customers don't fully realise it either).
Also around this time I'm daddy to a 3 year old bundle of fun with a Saturday job AND a full time job. The grind of working 6 days is sometimes getting to me and my love of the wonderful world of comics is being tested somewhat by a pathological obsession with sorting out my basement.
The tipping point of my obsessional behaviour with the basement came with an off the cuff remark by one of the directors of FPI;
On a trip into the basement he'd mentioned to Dave how organised and laid out it was but he was surprised that I'd never thought about organising it length ways in long aisles rather than having lots of short aisles running across the shorter width of the basement.
Little did Dave realise that traumatic effect this would have when he in turn mentioned it to me.
Obviously way back in time when I started work in the basement it was laid out in a haphazard manner & completely full of shit. But over time we got various bits of shelving in and fitted it in wherever we could. This meant that all the dexion was arranged in short library shelf style sections rather than long warehouse type runs.
Within a week it had gone from a chance remark to me seriously thinking about it.
From just thinking about it to taking the decision to actually do it took a few weeks.
I was essentially going to turn the entire basement and all the stock down there through 90 degrees. Reorganising where everything was stored at the same time.
Much to the amusement and amazement of everyone I might add.
They all thought I was beginning to lose it.
Louise, meanwhile, was absolutely convinced I had.
Because I hadn't just been thinking about it at home.
Oh no, I'd been planning. That's planning as in "Tonight Pinky I shall take over the world"
I was sat in my room thinking, drawing, cutting out, measuring and laughing, somewhat manically at this stage.
I made lots of diagrams of the entire basement; big scale diagrams, in cardboard, with removable scale models of all the dexion and units.
I was taking the planning to a hideously obsessive level.
The final design was measured out and scaled to perfection.
I knew exactly where everything would go.
And just in case I forgot anything I had the whole thing mapped out tighter than a royal wedding with a written 50 point plan of the exact order to do it in.
Because of course, this wasn't just going to be the incredibly complex job of essentially turning the entire basement through 90 degrees.
No, I had to make it even more difficult by deciding it was time to have a complete rethink on where everything went as well.
This would have been stupid even with just an empty space, but this involved a basement already full of toys, books, boxes, crap, crap and more crap. I had to plan to the smallest detail how I would move stuff from dexion A,B,C & D, where it could go temporarily, whilst not blocking the path for swinging the selected dexion around to point the other bloody way. Then all the stuff had to go back on and I had to repeat this process with Dexions E through to god knows what.
It often meant that the plans were almost inch perfect as I had calculated that sometimes the dexion would have to swing in such a way as to have only an inch or so clearance whilst doing so.
Of course, next up I had to put it into practice, which was where the really obsessive behaviour kicked in. Over the course of several weeks I logged lots of extra time down the basement.
I sorted, I moved, I cajoled dexion into place.
I pushed dexion, pulled dexion, propped up dexion with nothing but my back as support, I even provided some dexion with a nice soft landing when it decided to fall over.
I moved boxes 1-50 from A to B to C. Then moved them back from C to B to A so I could put boxes 51-100 into position B. (You get the idea)
It took ages, it took sweat and in more than one occasion blood to do it
(those corners of the dexion are sharp you know).
But I did it.
I turned the entire bloody basement around.
Got loads of extra space out of it as well.
Now instead of a lot of small aisles of dexion we essentially had 3 long rows of dexion for the toys. And smaller bits of dexion fitting in the nooks and crannies for supplies, comics, books, back issues (what little we had) and all the other shit that comes down into the basement.
It's actually funny how much extra stuff there is. Spare shelves, metal racks, posters, comic boxes, carrier bags - all of it has to be found a space somehow.
One of the most difficult things in a comic shop is to find a space for the huge amounts of waste cardboard you get. Every single week we receive something like 100 boxes of stuff. All the cardboard needs flattening and putting somewhere. You'd be honestly amazed at some of the towers we've had in the past. Immense things, impossibly stacked.
Luckily no-ones ever gone to hospital with cardboard related building collapse injuries.
But the cardboard does have one way of inflicting pain that is truly horrible.
Think paper cut. Now think cardboard cut. Bigger, more blood and stings like fuck.
So that was it.
Finished for a third time.
That was pretty much my last big act in the basement before eventually leaving to make the move up North. But from time to time I get horribly nostalgic for the work down there. Who knows, next time we're visiting Nostalgia & Comics when we pop back to Birmingham I might be tempted to put in a couple of hours again?
It's sad that part of my life's work is the construction of a superb storage facility at a comic shop, but it was mine and I'm proud of it.
(Actually that's very, very sad. But sod it.)