Now, there’s a blog title that will blow your trousers off. Bookmarks, eh? But let’s be honest, if you love reading, chances are you love your bookmarks.
I’ve never been a corner turner, in fact it drives me mad. I need a card, a slip of paper, something to mark a page. As a kid I remember a ‘cool’ bookmark was almost more important than the book itself. As such I reckon my school bookshop sold more bookmarks than it ever did books, which is a tragedy, but perhaps not surprising, as it’s akin to a wannabe gym bunny buying all the gear only for it to sit in their garage – you buy it as a sign of intent.
During my recent move I rediscovered a lot of my old bookmarks hidden away in books I’d forgotten about. Here’s some of the things I found…
This is my current bookmark, and it’s a beauty. I like using trading cards for bookmarks as they are sturdy and a good size. I bought a dozen or so of these Indiana Jones cards from a guy at a bootsale a few years ago. Sadly he didn’t have the whole set or I would’ve snapped them up in a pinch.
I think I kept this receipt out of pride. Penguin editions of The Kama Sutra, Aesop’s Fables and Around the World in 80 days. Plus, American Psycho? All sold together (to a scruffy unshaven student) on November 27th, 2002. Man, I must have been high or drunk that day in the book shop. And it was a really good bookshop too (Methven’s, Canterbury) sadly now long gone. Like Ozymandias, only this receipt remains.
I was about eight years old when these cards came out in the early 1990s. They did a good trade on the playground, and despite never buying a packet, I ended up with quite a few cards. I guess kids gave away their doubles or whatever. I’ve been using them as bookmarks since my teens. I rediscovered this rather cool Bart Simpson chilling in amongst the monsters of an HP Lovecraft omnibus, of all places.
Exhibit D: Monkey World bookmark
Found in: Not yet used
Odd one this. My girlfriend bought me this bookmark after our trip to Monkey World in Dorset. It was a really touching gesture, but I’ve since had to explain to her that I doubt I’ll be able to use it as something happened at Monkey World that will probably haunt me for life.
It all started at the Orangutang house.
As I drew up for a look a female orangutang noticed me. Her large round eyes met mine through the glass and she held my gaze. It was odd, but I felt a flicker of understanding between us, intelligence, perhaps, I don’t know. Whatever it was, it was a touching moment David Attenborough would’ve been proud of. However, this moment was ruined when her ‘bloke’ suddenly appeared, parted her legs, and then set about giving her oral pleasure. Worst of all, she kept looking at me whilst this was happening. I walked away feeling dirty, like I’d just been in some sort of simian three way. As such every time I look at this bookmark I’m taken back to that awkward moment.
My girlfriend didn’t know this, or else she wouldn’t have bought me the bookmark. Or a mug with the orangutang’s face on it. Nor the coasters that go with it.
Exhibit E: ‘Mojo Bag’ X-Files game card
Found in: Deutsche Erzahlunge / German Stories – A Bilinguial Anthology
During my teens I really got into the X-files (for the first three seasons at least), and used to spend my pocket money on all sorts of trading cards from the local comic shop. This ‘Mojo Bag’ is a card from the X-Files collectable card game – a game I never played as the rules seemed too complicated.
Now we are talking! I missed the Jurassic Park trading cards when they first came out, but I couldn’t hand over my cash quick enough when I saw a stack of them at a bootsale. I’m prepared to say, that with no scientific evidence whatsoever, a Jurassic Park bookmark improves my enjoyment of the book I’m reading by 10%. And that’s a fact.
Exhibit G: Van Gogh Museum ticket stub
Found in: Just My Type: A book about fonts by Simon Garfield
Sometimes I’ll use ticket stubs for bookmarks. This one is from an ill-fated trip to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. The reason I say ‘ill-fated’ is because I was accompanied by a man who was exceedingly high on magic mushrooms. It is perhaps not unusual to stand and stare at the paintings for a considerable amount of time, but when someone does it whilst drooling and trying to turn their head and see them upside down, then, perhaps, your cover is blown.
Exhibit H: The Palm Reader’s Business Card
Found in: Etiquette for men: A book of Modern Manners by G.R.M Devereux
Not really sure how I ended up with this business card. Or why it is in this book.
Exhibit I: Train Ticket
Found in: Hamlet, Penguin book of Quotations, Dictionaries…lots of books
Fifteen years or commuting, plus several years of not owning a car, means I’ve been on a helluva lot of trains, which means I’ve owned a helluva lot of train tickets. When a bookmark isn’t to hand I usually fish an old train ticket out of my wallet. However, I’ve recently found this can be depressing, as when you find these ‘bookmarks’ years later, you lament how much train fares have gone up. Stratford to Chelmsford = £8.70 in 2005. £15.30 in 2015. Ouch.
Exhibit J: Panini Sega Super Play Trading Card
Found in: Random ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books
I’ve stopped using these as bookmarks as I’ve since managed to collect the whole set, but during my early teens I’d leave them scattered in Choose Your Own Adventure books.
And there you have it. The wonderful world of bookmarks.