I first came across this when I was writing a piece for the Guardian’s Education supplement about What to Take With You to University. Which I researched heavily because I never went. I was far too busy joining the army and learning how to strip down my personal weapon (a Sterling Sub-Machine gun, bullet capacity: 32, although only a numbskull would load it with anymore than 28) in my “noddy suit” (NBC suit – nucleur, biological, chemical suit) in a gas chamber with actual tear gas being pumped in. And interrogate people. And pick locks. And avoid assault courses.
So, to get to the point. You know how everyone is so obsessed with not getting their identity stolen theseadays? How you must shred everything that has any personal information on it whatsoever? Well, this is easy to do if you have an industrial shredder attached to a belt around your waist and have something you can do with the shredded paper (you can’t recycle it), such as keep a rabbit or a gerbil or run a mail order business (you can use if for packing, although be aware if you use a strip shredder – one which shreds paper into long strips – it is theoretically possible to piece together a document again, better to go for a cross-shredder). But otherwise, it can mean you end up with lots of bits of paper hanging around for the mythical day when you lug the top-heavy shredder out from under the desk, plug it in, and shred everything you’ve saved up.
Obviously, you should shred bank statements (and wow, what’s that like, to not keep bank statements??) and just about anything if you’re Andy Coulson. But lots of things just need you to obliterate your name and address.
This is where the Gobbledegook Stamp (be aware this is the name I have given it) comes in. When I first featured it, Lakeland had just started stocking it (some of the reviews for it on the Lakeland site are not promising, saying you have to ‘stamp over the address a few times’, well der, yes, big deal?). They weren’t sure they’d carry on stocking it and I had to grapple with them slightly to let them let me feature it: it’s now a best seller. You just happily stamp over your personal details and then put the letter in the recycling as per. You can get replacement ink pads for it at any stationers although I’ve not had to replace mine yet.
And with just over 100 days til Christmas, it’d make a very unglamorous little gift for someone paranoid in your life.