Finger lickin’


My walk to school in the late 60s would, every day, take me past a stamp shop.  The shop, near Tooting Bec Station, was next to a baker’s, where the smell emitting from the bakery was so foul I was drawn ever nearer to the stamp shop next door for comfort and often considered collecting stamps.

My dilemma was not knowing the difference between a Penny Black stamp and a Green Shield one (although I look back and think, if I’d owned a Penny Black, I wouldn’t have needed to lick as many Green Shield stamps as I did to collect the required amount for a flannelette sheet).

I would, most Saturdays, journey to the stamp shop, with a peg on my nose to avoid the acrid smell emanating from the next-door bakery, to buy some stamps.

I bought an album, a set of hinges and an implement which you dipped the hinges in, so you didn’t die of thirst with too much licking (I nearly bought one using Green Shield stamps but had dehydrated by the time I got to the shop in Clapham Common).

I quickly realised that my half a crown pocket money was never going to buy a Penny Black (or even a perforation off one) so my plan B was to buy stamps with modes of transport on.  Most people would collect stamps from specific countries (or Penny Blacks), but I was content with stamps with Concorde on or the occasional hovercraft.   My album consequently had no value, but I believed it could float on water or travel at super-sonic speeds.

It was only when I was older that I discovered the official word for collecting stamps was fellatio; more of that next week when I talk about my rare Blue Mauritius!

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