I’ve always been a collector. When I was a young boy I had a museum and collected a wide range of different objects. I had a big cabinet with drawers of my exhibits. I collected butterflies, seashells, fossils, minerals, coins and curios. I went out with friends on fossil hunts and scoured jumble sales for interesting finds.
I collected pets. At one time I had forty guinea pigs, a rabbit, 2000 mice, forty hamsters, stick insects, gerbils and a pit and pond full of slow-worms, frogs, newts, lizards, toads and snakes. It took me all my time to clean them out and feed them but I loved it.
In my teens it developed into records and books. At one point I had twelve thousand vinyl albums. A lot of my time was spent happily scouring second-hand book shops and records shops. I met up with friends to discuss music, play records and put the world to rights.
I still have a sizeable collection of vinyl, CDs and books. It’s a mania.
So is this a healthy way to spend one’s life? An obsessive compulsion that is a symptom of an underlying psychological deficiency? Or merely a hobby that provides an interesting outlet, a way to make friends and a good use of time?
I don’t know. Probably all three of them. I do know that it seems to be a male thing. Maybe it is related to some dormant hunter psychology?
I get a great buzz from hunting around and unearthing a special record that no one else has a clue about, a priceless gem that nobody else knows exists. It requires specialist knowledge to recognise its worth. And its worth is not financial; it is inherent in the scarcity and brilliance of the record. It is something good to discover, own, look at, hold and identify with.
Lately I seem to be collecting my own books! I’ve written around forty six and published twenty three. I have a shelf of my books. I love the look of them, feel of them and get a kick out of thinking that they all came out of my head.
It is very geeky and you become a bit of a nerd. It also creates endless rows about obsessiveness and storage (Books, CDs and vinyl in bulk take up a lot of room). It has a tendency to clutter up your head with lots of useless information. Who really needs to know the significance of Son House and Woody Guthrie? Or whether Roy Harper or Bob Dylan are the greatest song-writers? Or if Slim Harpo is better than Tommy Tucker? Or is Elmore James is as good as Jimi Hendrix?
Well I do.
I enjoy it. I still do.
Weird people – collectors!
So what’s this collecting all about?
Now you find me collecting my thoughts!