Single White Who Fan
|ISBN||0 955 7149 X|
|Summary: Jackie is a girl who views the world through TARDIS-shaped windows. She loves Doctor Who. She's sassy and holds down a busy PR job, but her real thoughts swim with string-vested sea monsters and silly ideas about who her antiquated Tom Baker doll really looks like.|
A Review by Jamie Beckwith 16/8/12
I became a Doctor Who fan at would could be considered an inopportune time. No sooner had I become hooked than the BBC cancelled the show. As the years passed after Survival and with no new Who on the horizon, people forgot about it and I soon found myself being the only Doctor Who fan I knew (apart from my Dad).
Obviously, I knew there were other fans unless of course DWM really did survive solely on my subscription and just made up the letters pages as an elaborate plot to continue to make me feel isolated, but I doubted it somewhat!
My only glimpse therefore of fandom was through Jackie Jenkins' column in DWM and I lived vicariously through her. She regularly hung out with her two friends Nigel and Chas who also loved Doctor Who as much as she did. They have conversations about the merits of Terry Nation's total oeuvre, queue for Tom Baker's autograph, swap crap merchandise and speak in a coded shorthand where the collective unconsciousness of fandom is CSO'd around them. This was a world I wanted to be part of and when Jackie left the pages of DWM with her arch nemesis/lover Darren, I felt very sad as it meant once again I was back to being the only Doctor Who fan I knew.
Hirst Books have recently published the complete collected together columns, along with a new section covering the revised series, and with an introduction by then-DWM-editor Gary Gillatt. These days, I am immersed in fandom, being on the editing team for The Terrible Zodin fanzine, so it was interesting to go back to the columns and see how they resonated with me today.
If anything, I understand it a lot more. Back then, I was awestruck and that was enough to have me turn to her column first whenever a new issue arrived. Now though, I can not only appreciate its accurate portrayal of Who fan friends' dynamics but can also appreciate how funny it is. Jackie, Chas and Nigel represent the different faces of fandom with its different obsessions, but are still bound together by the common theme of the show. There are the jealousies towards the older fans who saw Pertwee and Baker on original broadcast, the hallowed received wisdom that the 60s is exempt from criticism and the snobbery towards cheap merchandise whilst still buying it anyway because of the completionist mindset. As a female fan, back then still a minority in fandom, Jackie also offers a somewhat different perspective. From shop assistants assuming she's buying Doctor Who videos for her boyfriend rather than herself to her inability to relate to Nigel's girlfriend because she's one of the Not-We, she nonetheless embodies the characteristics that all Who fans of that time can relate to; in this internet-fangled world, new fans may find it strange to consider frantically searching through slow-moving Ceefax following a garbled half-remembered news report from a relative about the show finally coming back and the crushing inevitability of it not being true.
I wouldn't want to be pretentious and call this a social commentary on fandom in the Wilderness Years, because that would make it sound dry and dusty and lacking in home-knitted Gell Guard. But if you want a fun read about the foibles of fan obsessions with a biting but loving humor to it, you could do worse than check this out. Hopefully, you'll find yourself nodding in agreement and recognise some of the described traits amongst yourself and your Who-loving friends. Back then, they played "If the Doctors were Spice Girls, which would they be?" and variations of the game still continue; my girlfriend and I once passed a train journey playing "If the Doctors were dogs, which breed would they be?"