"Can I Have Your Autograph, He Said To The Fat Blond Actress..."

I am inclined to disagree with autographs for a number of reasons. The main one being I don't really know what to do with them once I have them. They are a little pointless. A scribble barely representing any letter form, let alone a name. ("Sign and print please" is what I will ask in future). I adore hand writing, I really do. It is unique to the individual. In fact when my grandad died the thing I wanted most of all to treasure was a piece of his handwriting. There is something personal there, something that can be emulated but will never be the same. The idea of someone putting a pen to a piece of paper and writing out whatever is in their mind. A document of a moment of thought. I am not talking about signatures. They are something different. They are something that suggests identity, a piece of evidence that we are indeed who we say we are. And so the autograph is a sort of proof that you met someone. A sort of back up file for the memory. (There is a similar point to be made about photographs, photographs are taken in the place of a memory that you didn't actually experience because you were busy taking a photograph, but I love photographs so I can't stay mad at them.) It differs from a piece of hand writing, it is much more banal and repetitive. It has no meaning. And after you have met with your idol you become euphoric, but it wears off, and then you need something to remind, some proof it happens. You look to that back up file, that peice of paper and you smile momentarily, but then there is something unsatisfying about it.
The first autograph I ever received was in my teens, a signed autograph of Brian May, Queen guitarist, my then hero. This was a good autograph to have because it has a point... it was proof to me, at that age, that things don't just happen, you have to alter things however you can to make things happen. In this case I wrote a letter and received a small token in return. Today I am almost positive that the letter did not actually reach Brian, but his fan office had a stack of fan letters and a stack of these photos that they were sending out, like a factory line. It is convincing though, you can make out the form of the letters, there is definitely a B there a sort of M and a Y. Yes time and effort has been put into the writing out of this signature, yet you have to question whether or not he has seen that letter, because if so much time and effort has gone into the writing of his name why not bother to write out the fans name. It is a factory line! Back then, through my naivety I was more than elated to see the envelope was hand written, clearly a personal touch from the man himself. My name and address written by the hand I was so inspired by (that has got to be the cheesiest thing ever written, but it is generally how I feel about the hand writing of those I admire...)
Another autograph I have, I do not know why I have, I am not that bothered about having and do not have a damn clue what to do with is that of Bryan Adams. I am not a fan of Bryan Adams yet I have his autograph in a program of a charity event I attended. At least here effort has been made, you can make out my name, but less effort was put into his own (sign and print please). What am I supposed to do with that? I cannot throw out this programme as it has the autograph of Bryan Adams in it, but at the same time I cannot do anything with it. If I were my mum, I may have framed it... but I am not.

By now I am quite aware the reason I have Bryan Adam's autograph, and perhaps the reason that Autographs exist, is because when there is a celebrity near by (regardless who) I go a little bit funny. I simply have to go over and stare. Then what? Well I have to say something... What? I dunno, anything. My hand will automatically reach into my pocket/bag, find something that either represents the event I have just attended or at least resembles a piece of paper, and say "Excuse me, would you mind?" They are more an excuse to harass famous people than a keep sake. Even then that isn't enough for me, I want to harass them more. If I stand around long enough they will definitely think, hey, she has determination, I want to befriend her. I find myself either saying something dumb or loitering around until they leave... (Adam and Joe did a great 'text the nation' based around embarrassing things you have said to celebrities. STEPHEN!... Just Coming... ooh feels good to get a bit of Stephenage into the blog!)
(for all you know a child may have scribbled this one.
In fact it was scrawled by the hand of Lou Reed (blue)
and Laurie Andreson (pink) two greats!)
Another point to make on this subject, missed opportunities. One purpose of getting an autograph could be to sell it. You stand to make a bit of cash depending on the caliber of Celebrity. I very much disagree with the purchasing of autographs, it make everything extra pointless. If you have not met the celebrity for that autograph, what is the significance of owning it? It's only possible meaning could be you are a crazy! If you have a mass reproduced LP of the Lou Reed classic 'Transformer' it is worth nothing, a fiver tops. Get that signed, you have a fortune, a small fortune, you will probably make it into three figures on ebay. So then, Mandi, (yes me) if you plan on spending £15 on watching Lou Reed at the intimate venue of the Palace theater, where his only escape is through the stage door, why not take that Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat LP, you so treasure (but haven't played for so long as you cannot be bothered to set up the turn table, besides I have it in MP3 format so why should I), get it signed and earn yourself a little money. Or you know, you could at least keep it on show then. That would be fairly cool, White Light/White Heat signed, leaning up againest you bedroom wall. A real talking point. You could tell everyone that enquirers about it how, when you received that autograph Lou Reed grunted at you. No, instead fluff it, pull out the crumpled up, dog eared flyer! That isn't even worthy of a frame.

(the black corner is due to placing straightening irons onto it by accident)
The same happened with Mick Rock. I met him at a workshop the Urbis was running. (A photography masterclass. Everyone turned up with professional SLRs, me, who at that point had no idea about anything photography, turned up with the smallest most useless point and click. It was great! We went out, took pictures, returned so that Mr Rock could give everyone a lovely group crit. My turn, he didn't say too much, when I got up to leave, he grabbed hold of my arm and said "At least you are trying." All I could think was that hand has most definitely touched David Bowie, who, as a consequence, has just touched me!) I could have spent £30 on any one of Mick Rock's books, they were all there in the Urbis shop, beside the man himself, all there, just buy one, sell it, make yourself a lovely profit. Everyone else was doing it. In fact people were buying four books, having him sign the lot. Ebay... Or the postcards I had just bought, have him sign one of them... No. Get your ticket out love, have him sign that instead. Then leave it out on your desk, burn it with straightning irons, tac it to your wall, let the sun bleach it a bit before deciding, it is best out of direct sunlight. It finally resides in my purse folded, near death! But at least if i feel like showing off I can pull it out. I just don't know what to do with autographs once I have got them.

The thing I like is the touching aspect of it. To have someone who works with their hands touch you or something you now own, is a privilege. To have someone speak to you who regularly inspires through their voice, is an honour. So to have someone you admire, who plays an instrument and writes down lyrics of beauty, touch that damn flyer and scribble out, very clumsily and half heatedly, an autograph... that has to mean something right? Perhaps. It is great to own such objects but they are all end up pretty vacuous. The only significance they have is a moment in time, and more often than not, that too is brief and meaningless.

1 comment:

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The first autograph I ever received was when I was in the college and I saw Ramsey Emmanuel Lewis he is an American jazz composer, so he was in the supermarket next my college in Chicago, Illinois..dd22!