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Showing posts with label collector. Show all posts
Showing posts with label collector. Show all posts

Friday, 10 October 2014

Collector or hoarder?

cabinet of curiosities

I've been an avid collector of things for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, we moved house a lot, but one constant in my life was a little cabinet not unlike the one above, full of my favourite odds and ends. Many of the little items on those tiny shelves are the same as they've always been, but over the years, I've added to my collection as I've acquired little trinkets here and there.

Most people my age have left a lot of their stuff at their parents' house. All of their childhood bits and bobs remain in their adolescent bedrooms, or packed into boxes in the attic. At least, that's how it is with most of the people I know. All of their old schoolwork, their certificates, perhaps some old clothes... It's all tucked away at their parents' house, out of sight. Because both of my parents live abroad, I've ended up with the majority of my childhood things. Practically every single thing I've ever owned. Or at least that's how it feels when I'm trying to heft the boxes into vans to drive them up and down the country.

So at what point does keeping things become unhealthy? I've always kept a diary and I am a very nostalgic person - I love looking back on what I thought or said or did a long time ago. That's why all of my embarrassing old blog posts are still around for your delectation. I did spout some tosh back then. I probably still do, come to think of it. Moving house has given me the chance to get rid of a lot of old things that I never look at any more, such as an old set of computer speakers, or a jumper with an un-fixable hole in the armpit. There are plenty of things that I can't throw away though, like birthday cards from old friends, a note passed to me in class twelve years ago, a painting by one of my pupils when I was (very briefly) a teacher... I treasure these material possessions, not because they're worth any money but because I get such joy from looking at them and from re-finding them after they've been packed away for a long time.

Obviously there are limits - I mean, I'm not keeping things for the sake of owning EVERYTHING, or because I am scared to throw things away. I'll let you into a little secret - in Dan's childhood bedroom, on top of one of his bookshelves, is a chocolate Easter egg that his grandparents bought him when he was three years old. I'm pretty sure that my own personal hoarding boundary is much more acceptable than 23 year old chocolate... I try to make sure that I am being reasonable about the things that I keep. And my next project is to make sure that all of these things that I own are packed and stored in such a way that they are easily findable and take up the least space possible. And when I'm feeling guilty about having so much stuff, I need to remember that most people my age have a lot of stuff, it's just that half of it is at their parents' houses!

Do you keep everything? Or do you prefer the minimalist approach? What's your most treasured childhood possession?

1. A heart shaped tin with some of my milk teeth in it. // 2. A mysterious Virgin Mary that nobody remembers buying. It is covered in glitter and appeared in our house many years ago with no explanation. // 3. An Eiffel tower model given to me for free by a street vendor in Paris who made me cry when he showed me a sexually explicit monkey toy when I was eleven. // 4. A porcelain fairy that I bought with pocket money on a trip to Devon as a child. // 5. A really small German dictionary given to me by Robin. // 6. Another Virgin Mary, this time one I bought with pocket money on a holiday to Greece, when I was obsessed with Catholic shrines as a child. I feel I should point out, my family is not Christian! // 7. A small tin with the carnation my dad wore in his lapel on the day he married my mum. // 8. Wooden Tortoise, China Koala. // 9. A pebble from Brighton beach with a naturally formed hole in the shape of a 'C' for 'Candy'. // 10. Venetian glass dreidel, tacky 80s crucifix, and my graduation pin from Cambridge University. // 11. A picture of me as a wee babby. // 12. A tiny classical vase, full of whiskers shed by the cat over the last few years. // 13. Glass snail. // 14. The wheel I carried around in my pocket for a year as a teenager. As mentioned on my About Me page! // 15. Painted banksia seed pods, sent to me from Australia by my Aunty when I was little. // 16. Various nostalgic Champagne corks. // 17. A toy Morris Minor car that my Dad gave me when I was a child. He used to own a real-size one of these cars, before I was born. // 18. Tiny horseshoes for good luck!