Sunday, 15 January 2012

Do you remember Green Shield Stamps?

I do.  I have a very distinct memory of helping my dad stick reams and reams of Green Shield Stamps into their oblong orange booklets.  I used a sponge to wet the glue on the back of the little green squares and we had so many stamps to stick my hands used to turn white and prune like as if I had stayed too long in the bath and when you squeezed the sponge, the foamy glue and water mixture would ooze and hiss and dribble down my arm.  I wasn’t very good at lining the stamps up correctly but there again, I was only five or six and you can’t expect technical accuracy from cheap child labour.  I remember going shopping with my mum and she would tuck them carefully into her purse, hiding them so they could be saved and used later to buy something exciting like a drill or a cassette player from Argos.

Apparently you could buy an awful lot with Green Shield Stamps, my father told me that in 1971 they practically furnished their first house with the little blighters.  I found out that in the 70s you needed 375 books of stamps to buy a Phillips colour television, it took 1280 stamps to fill a book and you got a stamp for every 2.5 new pence you spent in the supermarket or petrol station which according to my calculations, would have meant you needed to spend £12,000 to get enough stamps to buy that TV.  Considering that the average colour television in the 70s cost around £350 (around £3,000 today) that is a hell of a lot shopping.  Mind you, with the extortionate cost of petrol these days it wouldn’t take you long to save enough stamps to host the Olympics in your own back garden.

Of course these days we have our own version of Green Shield Stamps.  Sainsbury’s Nectar card, Boots Advantage points and I reckon my mother has saved enough Tesco’s Club Card points to fly to the moon and back.  The only difference between these and the Green Shield Stamps is technology.  We can cram as many points onto our little credit card sized bits of plastic to buy ‘free stuff’ in the same way my father crammed as many orange booklets of stamps into boxes in his garage.  It's just a question of size.  My mother says she misses collecting Green Shield Stamps but she still collects Tesco’s Club Card points, they’re the same thing but we always look on the past with rose tinted wistfulness.

I call it paper nostalgia.  In the same way my mum feels about Green Shield Stamps, some people speak about the traditional book.  They say they like the feel of paper in their hands when they read but as nice as that is, I’m running out of room to put all of my books which is why I was so pleased to buy my Kindle last year.  For me it is the ultimate space saver.  I was told by a friend the other day that three million Kindles were bought prior to the Christmas period, so a lot of other people agree with me. 

Look back on the Green Shield Stamp with affection but modern technology ain’t so bad.

If you got a Kindle for Christmas then you might like to download one or two of my stories.  I don’t think Amazon accept Green Shield Stamps so you may have to use modern technology to pay for them, but at least they're less than the price of a 70s colour TV.

Happy Reading and Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. I remember Green Sheild Stamps! Ah, memories! I prefer the Boots Advantage Card though LOL