I collect therefore I am

The gentle art of building a collection is apparently once more on the rise.

Some of my customers at the Admiral storage facility are people who have items that they just need to keep safe.  Some have items that they are not sure if they will need again, but want to store them just in case, and don’t have any room at home.

Some of my customers, as I have mentioned before, have recognised that there are items (such as old photographs) that can deteriorate if left in the wrong sort of conditions (such as the attic), and so want them kept in a more appropriate environment.

And some of my customers are collectors.

Now, never having been much of a collector myself I find collecting interesting – by which I mean that I don’t feel the drive to collect anything, but I do find it fascinating that some people (lots of people in fact) do clearly enjoy collecting.

As a result of this state of mind, I’ve often pondered how people become collectors.  Is it that they had parents who collected something, and so got the idea that way?  Or is it something inside their head that makes them collect?

Or could it be that collecting is a perfectly natural and ordinary thing to do?  In which case is it us people who don’t collect who are the oddballs?

Over the years I have got to know one or two of my customers who are collectors quite well, and I’ve been able to ask them questions such as “Why do you collect?” but sadly the answer I get isn’t very illuminating.

Generally, they tell just me that they enjoy collecting, and that doesn’t really help.  But these short conversations have led me to ponder this idea: that there are two types of collectors.

On the one hand there are those who collect something, and then refer to, study, look at, examine, or in some other way use their collection.

As an example, one of my customers collects football programmes.  Not just of football matches that he has been to, but of many other games as well.  Indeed, he does often flip through certain parts of his collection, looking for a reference, or a comment, or a report on a certain game from years gone by.

I had assumed all the information you might want about football was on the internet but apparently it is not, and so the programmes are a valuable way of resolving arguments that arise on the way to and on the way home from matches.

So this collector uses his collection.

But it seems to me that there is a second type of collector who doesn’t do this, but collects simply to know that he or she possesses this collection.

Such people (and I don’t say this in any way out of criticism, merely observation) could never bring themselves to give away or sell their collection.  Indeed, I know one collector who has insisted most strongly that when he dies his family must keep his collection together.

Because I know this collector particularly well I was able to ask him why he should make such a stipulation to his children, and his answer was peculiarly illuminating.  “Because it’s a collection – it took me years to gather it all together – it is part of my life.”

It was that explanation that gave me the clue I was looking for.  Collecting was what he did.  It was part of his life.  Getting rid of any of the collection would have been like having a leg sawn off.  The collection had come to define a part of what he was.

And, of course, that is absolutely fine.  We all define ourselves in lots of different ways – through the way we dress, the way we speak, the job we do, the people we associate with, and what we do in our spare time.  And for some collectors (by no means all, but some) the collection is part of the definition of what they are.

Of course, to be a meaningful collector one has to know a fair amount about what you are collecting, and so collecting becomes rather like studying something.  Except what is desired is not knowledge and understanding (although that may come along the way) but the ever more complete collection.

I don’t know how many collections or part collections we have in store – obviously I only get to know what’s what when my customers choose to pause for a natter and tell me what they are storing – but I suspect it is a fair old number.

I also suspect the art of collecting (which I remember reading some years ago, was thought to be in decline) is once more on the increase.

And long may that be the case, says I.

You can find more information about our facilities on our website at www.admiralstorage.co.uk. Alternatively, you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Self Storage Ltd
Bloxwich Lane
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@admiralstorage.co.uk 


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Under the barrier

Somehow proper communication ain’t nothing like what it was used to be.

Looking back at my recent notes about the curious things that get stored in the Admiral Storage facility, I realise just how many very curious items people collect.

But ruminating on this over the past couple of weeks I have begun to wonder something else.  Is this desire to collect the oddities of our world (I asked myself) due to the fact that there are more people who like to collect unusual things, or has it happened because there are either simply more odd things around or more odd people around.

And I must admit that I am really seriously starting to wonder.

For example, I can remember the time when I phoned the garage that had sold me a car two weeks previously to inform them that this self-same car would not start, only to be told by the deputy junior assistant trainee phone operative that if I would “drive it over”  they would have a look at it.

At the time I just took that to be the foolishness of the young, but then when this was followed up with a problem with my internet connection, I did wonder further.  For on phoning my internet provider to tell them that I could not get online I was given the address of a helpful website that would be of use in resolving the problem.

Yet these were but background thoughts – mere passing concerns – until I got a note from my bank warning me to be wary of phishing emails that the unscrupulous might send my way in order to try to get me to part with my hard earned cash.

The instructions revealed that phishing messages often came with tell-tale signs, including spelling mistakes and poor grammar.

I took this state of affairs to be due to the fact that the poor saps who were reduced to phishing had clearly not gone to the right schools.  But then I began to wonder when the note went on to say that the bank had instituted various security procedures “to ensure neither you or us are compromised.”

And so it was that I found myself no longer taking the world around me for granted, but instead I started looking a little more closely at everything that might previously have just passed me by.

Thus it was that on visiting Portmeirion in North Wales I was fascinated to find a map of the ten top attractions that I should visit in north Wales, not least because on the map there were clearly 11 such attractions marked.

So, I wonder, what is going on?  Is this a plot to overthrow humanity by degrading the meaningfulness of our environment?  Or does nobody care anymore?

Does nothing get checked?  Has everything been handed over to machines?  Or is the human race (or at least that part of it that I come into contact with) in inexorable mental decline?  Have we all just given up on the thinking business on the grounds that by and large the machines will do the brainwork for us?

To understand this a little better I tried an experiment and told one of my friends whom I deem to be a bright sort of chap generally speaking that the trouble with the UK today was that fifty percent of the population was below average intelligence.  For my pains I got a very stern look and was told in no uncertain terms that he had never had me down as an elitist.  Which more or less proved my point.

People have stopped thinking – at least in the way that most of us used to think.  We expect everything to work, and leave everything to everyone else to give ourselves time to do… well… I am not sure what.

Puzzling over such matters I took myself upon my regular shopping round which included getting some shoe dye in an attempt to bring an old and somewhat battered, but still very comfortable, item of footwear back to a state in which I could wear them without attracting disparaging comments from my friends.

Once at home I checked the instructions and found what I needed to do.  “Applying using quick, long, even strokes back and forth in one direction.”   I’m still trying to work that out.

However, thinking that this must be the end of the silliness I carried on with my shopping, seeking to buy an alarm for my motorbike.  The motorbike shop had several alarms in stock including one which had a sign above it saying that as of the 1st January, the manufacturer had extended the free “lifetime guarantee” on the product.

Now I know motorbikes are complex and dangerous machines and need to be handled with care, but the notion of taking my bike with me into the afterlife, and then needing to have an alarm on it to stop it being nicked, suggests to me that my life has not been lived in as decent and honourable a fashion as I like to think.

Of course, all of this is in many ways quite amusing, except for the fact that in a world in which no one checks anything much in terms of its meaning, its sense, and its fitness for purpose, I start to wonder if it is safe to go out.

But of course one cannot stay at home all day long.  So I decided to come to work.  At the station I found a new sign had been placed on display saying, “Tickets for Birmingham and all other destinations”, which was interesting and only bettered by the fact that the pedestrian barrier close to where I work had a new sign next to it saying, “Do not walk under the barrier if open or closed.”

And at that point I gave up.

But I shall try and come to work again next week.

You can find more information about our facilities on our website at www.archive-document-storage.co.ukAlternatively, you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@archive-document-storage.co.uk


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