My all-consuming hobby when I was twelve and thirteen was, surprisingly, not boys. In those days, children of thirteen were still children, and my hobby was collecting pictures of Hollywood film stars. I had several scrapbooks into which I pasted all the film stars’ photos I could lay my hands on. I used to spend all the money I had on the two magazines that were all about Hollywood and the stars. One was called Picturegoer and the other, Filmgoer. I’d give my eyeteeth for a back edition of one of those magazines now! All the girls in my class were crazy about Hollywood, and we collected and swapped pictures at every opportunity.
One time, I had a picture of a starlet that I didn’t know. Not to be outdone, I duly pasted her into my book and wrote beneath the cutting the word ‘anon’. This happened again, so I followed the same procedure; Mummy had told me years earlier what the word anon. meant. Later, at school, I was showing my collection to a girl in my class. She looked at the photographs of the two ‘unknowns’ and said ‘you’d never guess that they were the same person, they look so different!’
One of the side effects of the war was a paper shortage. Of course, there were a great many shortages, most of which we kids didn’t worry about. The smaller children didn’t remember things like chocolate and bananas, while oranges and lemons was just a nursery rhyme. I was quite aware that clothes and food were rationed, but as a family we never bought great quantities of either. Mum was a good manager and we never seemed to go short of the things that really mattered. But a paper shortage – that was different. That had a serious affect on my film star collection!
I had been unable to continue my hobby in Grange-over-Sands. We didn’t live anywhere near a newsagent, so I didn’t have the opportunity to buy my magazines. Then we moved to Bradford and it was all systems go! I hurried down to the local paper shop, which was a few doors away, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The shopkeeper soon informed me that owing to limited availability Picturegoer and Filmgoer were only for regular customers who had always ordered them from him. I cajoled and pleaded, but to no avail.
Back home I sat and thought deeply about this problem. Then I hit on an idea. I would boldly walk up to the counter and, clutching my money, announce that I’d been sent by Mrs. Jones to collect her copy of Picturegoer. If questioned, I would tell the newsagent that Mrs Jones had a headache and couldn’t come out. I don’t think it occurred to me that he probably didn’t have a customer called Mrs. Jones. Or maybe it did, and I decided to live dangerously. Of course it didn’t work, although I tried it on more than one shop. From then on, until the end of the war, film stars were very thin on the ground.
To be continued…