moseleymoles on In which Mr Moles muses on his life through objects
Recent changes chez Moles have thrown more focus onto the shelves, racks and piles of stuff that we – chiefly I – have filled our des res with over the years. The re-organisation of the Front Room has led Ms Moles to make what she would like to think is a ‘full and final settlement’ of the space allocated for CDs/vinyl/books/comics/DVDs. That settlement in full:
The DVDs not to exceed their allocated shelving. Roughly 650 DVDs worth.
The fiction shelving not to exceed their allocated shelving. Approximately 800-900 including overflow onto the floor below and behind the sofa.
Non-fiction and vinyl not to exceed their allocated shelving. Vinyl is one area Ms Moles does chip in with approx. a third of the total. And no, we may have been together 30 odd years and produced two offspring but those collections remain unmerged.
New shelving to be provided in the front room as part of its redecoration for the CDs – I would reckon between 1500-2000 (maybe 300 Ms Moles). And for the comics – around 2500 (er…all mine, 90% 2000AD).
Though I instinctively bridle, I know that this is for a fifty-something is enough. I’m fully in a new phase now: we’re in collection management rather than acquisition. So how did we get there? Come with me as I attempt to unravel the Six Ages of Collecting Person Like Me
ONE: AND SO IT BEGINS
You know my parents stuff. It’s rubbish. I need my own stuff, in my own room.
The school-era young collector is characterised both by penury and by a ferocious appetite to acquire. These two are of course in opposition to one another, and thus there are endless hours that can be spent in second-hand and charity shops. Because the one thing young people have no-one else does is time, lots of it. There are updated versions of this – daughter Moles for example is a devotee of the 2 for £3 sections of Music Magpie.
PORTRAIT OF THE COLLECTOR AS A SERIOUS YOUNG MAN OR WOMAN
ELO? What was I thinking. No, I’ve never liked ELO. They’re rubbish.
The transition begins in sixth form and is in full flow by university. Taste is everything. In my case it was punk, post-punk or nothing. Those copies of Out of the Blue and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack are either hidden away under the bed at home or churned at Record and Tape Exchange. There are of course some gems that get culled, leading later to that most bittersweet of feelings, Collector’s Regret. Cashflow is still tight, as there’s beer to be bought, so admission to the collection (which is on public display as a potential Opposite Sex Attractor) is probably at its very hardest to gain. That and taking it home every term-time and back again.
THE FIFTY-POUND PERSON
Ah the world of work. Again, a double-edged sword for the collector. On the plus side there is Actual Money to spend on product that hasn’t been preloved. On the negative side time is now no longer free. Hence the lunch-hour spree and the need to drop money on some stuff in the next thirty minutes, before I have to go to the staff meeting. Job Promotions and renting, like actual places with more than one room, can super-size this process, where the collection is expanding as never before. The collector at this stage is a sucker for technology changes and upgrades: what buy everything again on blu-ray I bought on DVD 5 years ago. Of course, that seems reasonable. Even necessary. Sans mortgage, sans childcare the collector will never again be able to drop cash with so little thought.
S/he’s the one. They love you, but how do they feel about the boxes? On one side there’s two suitcases of clothes and a box of saucepans. On the other side an estate car full of Golden Age Marvel and Northern Soul. This leads to a new impulse: I’ll Be Good. I will. I promise I will. We can’t have a row like that again.
For the first time this results in Shadow Collections: boxes of stuff with labels on lurking in attics, cellars and spare rooms. Out of sight and thus not really here. To be half-forgotten about, until one bank holiday when it becomes absolutely essential to local those Alan Moore-era Swamp Thing comics that were stashed away a decade ago.
KIDS: COLLECTING NOW FOR THE FUTURE
It’s a warzone. I mean honestly in the sea of lego, biscuit crumbs, Tommy Tippees and nappy bins who cares about your complete collection of Fabric mix CDs in their shiny metal boxes. Your living room is at absolute breaking point as a world-beating collection of My Little Ponies fights for space on the shelves. One storming row about a set of jammy fingerprints on that pristine copy of The White Album is guaranteed – because what’s really important right?
There is another side though:
I mean I’m not doing this stuff just for me anymore. Someday they’ll want to watch ALL the Futurama episodes right, so we’ll need those.
The collector acquires both an altruistic purpose and a newly lengthened horizon: in a decade we can watch the Marx Brothers together: in fifteen years you’ll be ransacking my shelves during English Literature A-level; and those early Pink Floyd albums are Your Actual Inheritance.
NO IT REALLY IS QUALITY OVER QUANTITY THIS TIME – I MEAN HOW LONG HAVE YOU ACTUALLY GOT LEFT WITH ALL THIS STUFF?
So here we are. 640 DVDs at one a week would be 11 years to watch them all once through. 1500 books which would be just under 20 years at my current rate. There’s a spreadsheet to cap the collections on a ‘one in, one out’ basis.
I feel the seventh age may be giving it all away, as I enter my Assisted Living Unit with only 4 Philip K Dick novels, the Hounds of Love and Barry Lyndon for company. But I’m not there just yet.