Mad, sad, nerdy, anoraky, no-friends
trainspotter twats. That's what we are, apparently. And so is
everyone else who's reading this. We've all committed the
heinous crime of BEING INTERESTED IN SOMETHING. We should all get a
This attitude appears, on the surface, to
be perpetrated by the clubbing set - those who revel in drinking,
dancing and getting off their faces. They care not for
'serious' stuff, or for acquired learning of any kind.
Having a good time is tops, and a passion for information or ideas
is the last refuge of the man without a girlfriend.
This is balls, obviously, but it's
seductive balls. For the most part, this sneering pocket of society
consists of otherwise pleasant and normal people who are culturally
afraid of being tarred with the 'trainspotter' brush. So
they dress cool, they act cool, they make damned sure they
don't, for the love of God, say anything that might indicate
that they've ever read a book without pictures (other than to
revise GCSEs with - and even then they didn't pass because, hey
they were drinking and clubbing and grooving all night before the
exam, yeah), and they generally keep their heads down in a
The 'Oh my God, I might be considered
a nerd' mentality has even affected our fanzine and website
culture. Yes, we still have fanatics, but all too often their
eulogies are now punctuated with salutary reminders from the
compilers that they're not that sad really. Facts and
research diminish in favour of 'Oh, let's not go down that
road - it's a bit sad' type comments (or worse, equal
weight given to articles about how much the writer had to drink
with his mates the previous night).
But why is this the case? Why is an
interest in any given subject treated with so much bewildered
contempt? Why is a 700-page book about television comedy dismissed
as the writings of someone who's 'mad' (to quote a
certain well-known comedian called Stewart Lee) instead of, like,
really quite good. When did it start?
Pedantic overzealous merciless attention
to detail is what makes fanzines and websites fun in the first
place. Creations put together by people who make the effort to
compile 32 pages of coded hints that they don't really
like the subject matter are no fun whatsoever.
Ignorance may be bliss, but a little
learning goes a long way.
The idea that people want to read about
'the essence of what makes a television programme good
or shite, not production information or episode lists' (to
quote a certain well-know website called TV Cream) is all wrong.
Said attitude has spawned the illogical attitude that a grown adult
talking about kids' TV in a kind of misty, vague way is cool,
whereas a grown adult talking about kids' TV with a big bunch
of evidence and theory-quenching data at his side is desperately
sad. This attitude even permeates the things people feel they can
talk about - most children of the 1980s, for example, enjoyed
Saturday Superstore every week, and did so at face value and
without irony; the TV Cream dictum, however, states that the
only possible way of remembering said programme is by boozily
recounting Matt Bianco being called wankers or the time when John
Craven got kicked up the arse. The aloof denial that one had a
childhood is the coolest, and saddest, thing of all.
And anyone who refers to old
childrens' TV presenters as 'the legendary...' is a
But anyway, who decided that there was
this great fat distinction between people pursuing interests and
people getting ripped to the tits? Samuel Johnson, writer of the
first dictionary, was a notorious boozer, shagger, gambler and all
round waster. Yet, on those occasions when he dried out and dipped
his quill, did all his mates down the tavern call him a
trainspotter? No. Mainly because trains hadn't been invented so
the arrival of one would have been far too easy to spot. The
analogy doesn't work. And they probably didn't have quills
But imagine the dictionary written in the
style favoured by today's fanzine-compilers: Aardvark
(noun): dunno!; Abacus (noun): y'know, one of them
things... etc, until it came to B for Beer at which point Johnson
would have launched into a long paragraph about wearing his
underpants on his head. Unreadable.
And what, after all, is the
antithesis of the 'trainspotter' tag to which we're all
supposed to aspire? Logically, it's to know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
About anything. And, worse still, to have no desire to change
Our view is that any acquired learning
puts you on a higher rung. And that's a good thing. Not just
for the individual but for the development of the species. Taking
an interest in diverse subjects and researching them ad nauseam is
what it's all about. Any subject. The clubbers we mentioned
earlier pursue their interests by bopping till daybreak in
single-minded pursuit of the groove. They should not be excluded
from the New World order either. Do what you do but, for crying out
fuck, do it well. Don't hold back because some bloke with more
fashionable trousers than you calls you a nerd for being able to
quote the entire Splodgenessabounds back catalogue. You're
wonderful. And we want you to stay that way.
Apart from you people who learn Klingon.
You're just strange.
And what was that? That was bathos. With a
'B'. Look it up in the dictionary, saddoes...