I think we all have a fair few ‘pivotal moments’ in our lives. Specific events that have somehow had a huge impact on us. Not a gradual thing, that occurs over time – but a single, exact point that we can look back on and say, “Yep, that’s how it all started!”. For me, one such moment happened over a decade ago, now. It might have been the summer of 2002, or 2003, but despite the date being fuzzy in my memory, the moment is crystal clear. It was the beginning of a truly huge obsession, that has gone on to shape my life in ways that I could never have foreseen. Take my hand, and let me show you the past….
I was shrouded in darkness. The closed blinds forbade any form of natural light to creep into the room, preserving the atmosphere which I found so important: that of excitement, intrigue, and mystery. My hands graced the silky soft quilt I was perched upon, a fabric of pure perfection that assured maximum comfort on the sprawling double-bed.
Listening intently for a moment through the yellowed wall (discoloured from the endless late-night cigarettes Grandma smoked), I could faintly hear the living room television. Yes, Grandmother was out of the way. I had her wonderful bedroom to myself. It was my domain now.
I glanced around in awe at the clutter on top of the wardrobes; the drawers which were so crammed full of interesting junk they couldn’t close properly; and the cupboards filled with ancient ornaments and fob watches. I knew that most of the stuff was useless, tit and tat purchased by Granddad on numerous visits to those car boot sales he loved so much. But I often wondered where all those items originally came from, what secrets lurked behind each and every one of them (and, perhaps the biggest mystery of all, what Granddad had actually wanted them for in the first place!).
One of my hands wandered towards a tall cup on the bedside table, filled to the brim with Grandma’s own special brew of strong, sweet tea. As I sipped and sipped and eventually gulped, like an alcoholic draining his first beer of the day, I allowed the boiling hot liquid to ease its’ way down my throat (and could still feel it as it swirled down towards my stomach, refusing to die away) – an unrelenting mix of fire and sugar which seemed to fulfil something more than just a mere quenching of the thirst, as if I were experiencing a sixth sense above and beyond that of taste. In a matter of seconds, the cup was empty, and I replaced it on the plastic mat, directly on the tea-stained ring at its’ centre. The cup’s own little throne.
It was after this satisfying burst of nourishment that I decided to divert my attention toward the reason I was in Grandma’s darkened room in the first place. Perched awkwardly at the end of the bed was a collection of videos, in a tidy little box-set, that an Uncle had leant me earlier in the day. He obviously (wrongly) assumed I was into science fiction, as the tapes were all from an old show called ‘Doctor Who’. I’d heard of it, of course. Everybody knew the hilarious ‘knock, knock…’ joke, for instance. But sci-fi just wasn’t my thing. I was a child of horror, it had always been the way. Of course, polite as ever, I’d taken the videos from my Uncle with a smile and a “Thanks, Uncle Peter, can’t wait to watch ’em!”, and Grandma had allowed me to watch them alone in her bedroom.
“Just shout if you want another cuppa!” she’d called shortly after making me my eighth cup of tea within the last hour.
And so here I was. I assumed it would be a case of watching one episode, pretending I’d viewed them all (so as not to offend my Uncle), and then go out into the sunshine to play. Taking the first video of the set, titled ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, out of its’ case, I shoved it into the huge mechanical monster that was Grandma’s VCR player, which devoured the tape hungrily and noisily. I then switched on the equally enormous square television, before folding back onto the bed to watch, I expected, just one single episode. In just a matter of seconds, unbeknownst to me, the seeds of a colossal, almost insane, obsession, were to be sown.
I could not have been more unprepared for the experience I was about to endure…