...A Rose By Any Other Name.



Remarkably, at the tender age of 24, Miss. Billie Piper (sometime time-traveller, Rose Tyler), had written her autobiography. To promote this, she was on a whistlestop book signing tour. Learning that she would signing at the Oxford Street branch of Earthrocks, and realising that this might be his only chance ever to meet Billie, Shirt arranged to use some of his accrued hours to leave work early. Chalky was on half-term, but turned down the chance to meet Miss. Piper, as he was frantically trying to sort out his and Tigger’s moving house, which seemed to have stalled due to inept solicitors. Dufus, although much recovered, was unable to attend, mainly due to Shirt only telling him about it at the last minute.


Therefore, slipping out before anyone could find another crisis for him to deal with, Shirt made his way alone to Clapham Junction Station, from where via Waterloo and Bond Street, he made his way to Earthrocks. Initially, Shirt could not find any copies of the book, until moving towards the tills, he saw a “Hadrian’s Wall” of copies behind the till operators. The book it seemed was half-price, and Shirt bought two copies (one for Dufus as instructed). Moving downstairs as there was no queue in sight, Shirt came across the awaiting hordes for the signing. His watch indicated that it was 4.20pm, and the signing did not start until 6pm. Towards the front of the queue were several people that Shirt recognised from Seventh Galaxy signings, clutching their precious books and other “Doctor Who” merchandise.


Joining the queue, which had snaked round into the science section, Shirt sat down, ready for the long haul. Looking around, half-term seemed to have swelled the numbers, with the majority being teenagers, male and female, with the odd “old school fan” dotted here and there. After a few minutes a member of Earthrocks staff came along, handing out tickets (to gauge how many were queuing and to allow people to go to the toilet  – Shirt’s said 79 but there seemed more people than that in front of him) and post-it notes for books if you wanted them dedicated. The three teenage girls in front of Shirt had bought a copy of the book together, confusing the assistant by wanting three names on the dedication. The assistant also brought the expected bad news – Billie would only be signing copies of the autobiography, no other merchandise or autograph books (scuppering Shirt’s plan to get her in his “Companions” book). However, being given a Fox’s Glacier Mint by the very attractive assistant, went some way to cheering Shirt up.


Shirt flicked through the book, looking at the pictures. Around him about six games of “Doctor Who Top Trumps” were waging. The queue was getting longer and longer, and the assistant was masterfully fielding every question under the sun:

“If I don’t get the book signed, can I get my poster signed ?”

“Can I give Billie this letter ?”

“Can I leave the queue to take a photo of a friend who’s further up the queue (I think) getting his book signed ?”

“How am I supposed to buy a book on science with all these people in front of the shelves?” (the latter being from someone not wanting to meet Billie).

Only one person asked who everyone was queuing for.

“Billie Piper”, said a man several places in front of Shirt.

“Really ?”, said the questioner, refusing to believe that a mass of people seemingly staging a mass sit-in all clutching Billie Piper’s autobiography in their hands could be waiting to meet Billie Piper.

“When did they start queuing ?”, a mother shocked at the length of the queue asked the assistant.

“I don’t know, I only came on at 4pm”, she spluttered, before adding, “It’s not as long as the one for Gary Barlow, sixty people were already queuing when the doors opened that morning, for a 6pm signing”.


Such entertainment concluded, as the assistant had moved out of overhearing range, Shirt decided to continue reading “I Didn’t Get Where I Am Today”, the autobiography of comedy writer, David Nobbs (of Reggie Perrin fame). Several people seemed to be abusing the ticket system, by going away for up to an hour shopping up Oxford Street before making their way back to their place in the queue, waving their ticket at anyone who complained as they pushed past. Then after an hour of queuing - movement ! However, this proved to only be assistants bunching the queue up to fit more on the end. Due to the amount moved, the queue must have been very spread out !  Hopes were raised that this might mean that the signing would be starting early, but these proved to be unfounded, as for a further half-hour nothing else happened.


At 5.55pm, there was a grand furore from a large pack of photographers gathered by the signing area, as the lady herself materialised. Cries of “It’s Rose !”, rang out around the store from young children overawed by the sight of the time-travelling heroine in the flesh. Children were being lifted onto parents’ shoulders left-right-and-centre, completely blocking Shirt’s view. Ten minutes later, and the queue started moving. There was a brief delay whilst the Seventh Galaxy regulars attempted (unsuccessfully) to persuade the burly security guards to let them get a piece of DW merchandise signed as well. The ‘autobiography only’ rule meant that the queue moved swiftly, and half-an-hour later, Shirt was in sight of Miss. Piper. Ten minutes later, he realised that he had not got his camera out, scrabbling in his bag he found it, put new batteries in it (to be sure), and placed it into a coat pocket. Shirt was amused by the variety of items that people had been trying to be allowed to get signed – DVD sleeves, unlicensed DW stills, and worst of all, unlicensed photos of “Maxim” and other men’s magazine shoots.


Then at around 6.45pm, he was at the front of the short queue. The security were taking no chances, making sure that Shirt left all bags with them, so that he couldn’t suddenly produce another item for her sign. As instructed, Shirt gave his books to an assistant, then fumbled in his coat pockets, finally finding the one with his camera, which he gave to another assistant. Moving to the table and the lovely Miss. Piper, Shirt rejoined his books, which had been transported hence. Fifteen seconds later, she finished signing the second book.

“Can I have a photo ?”, Shirt asked.

“Of course”, said Billie, putting her arm round Shirt as he moved round the table.

The assistant with the camera was initially concerned how long it took Shirt’s camera to initialise, but five seconds later took a photo.

Scooping up his books, with a thanks to Billie, Shirt retrieved his bags and camera, and staggered to a secluded part of the store, where he sorted all the items out, and checked that the photo had come out. Thus together, he strode out into the rainy delights of Central London, happily wending his way home, in time for “Spooks”.