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“live, and let live?”

By ATWadmin On December 9th, 2006

Read about the ‘autograph collector’ whose life’s work was being placed at auction. I really do feel for him, watching from the shades as his passion was turned into auction lots by a family who just couldn’t understand that it wasn’t all about the ‘value’, or indeed the rarity of a particular scribble; it was the spur of ‘the collection’, of gaining something which others did not have, and because it was so rare, that was the flame which lit his life. In itself, the collecting of ‘things’ is harmless enough, and only becomes problematic when allied to Obsessive Compulsion; a disorder which can affect people’s whole lives.

I once came up against the second grade of the ‘Collector’ syndrome when returning from South Wales to my Durham home by train. I was happily strolling up the platform at Newport Station, aware of, but not really interested in, an ordinary goods train rolling alongside me while being pulled by an elderly ‘Deltic’ diesel-electric loco’. I was suddenly confronted by this wild-eyed fanatic, waving a book in front of him, while shouting “You’ve ruined my shot; you’ve destroyed the sequence! Fifteen  months I’ve waited, and you walk straight into shot! I’ll kill you!” Now normally, I’d go straight into the attack, as I don’t relish being set upon by some clown on a railway platform, but two of his mates got there first, restrained him and led him away; and only then did I notice I was looking at a set of really expensive VHS video-cameras, complete with microphones, standing on tripods whilst aiming down the platform and over the rails. As his friends explained, he was waiting for this particular ‘Deltic’ loco, complete with this particular array of wagons and trucks, in order to video it for his collection, and I had driven him to distraction by walking straight in front of the lenses as the train slowly rolled by! I had ruined his chance at recording, for his later delight, the passing of a perfectly ordinary diesel-engine’d locomotive, which was pulling what to me was a bog-standard and thoroughly-unremarkable set of wagons, trucks and flat-cars; but to him was the gold-standard in transportation technology.

To my ordinary mind, uncluttered as it is by such trivialities as loyalty to a football team or a particular pop group, the existence of strange sub-cultures such as ‘train-spotters’, or ‘twitchers’, or even ‘Gaelic pipe marching bands’ seem rather outlandish; but I have always subscribed to the triple pillars of British behaviour: viz,

“There’s nowt’ so funny as folk!”

“The whole world’s queer except thee an’ me, and I have my doubts about you, sometimes!”

And my own personal favourite, which is a reputed quotation from King George the 5th regarding homosexuals,

 “I don’t care what people do, as long as they don’t do it in the streets, and frighten the horses!”

6 Responses to ““live, and let live?””

  1. Mike,

    “There’s nowt’ so funny as folk!”

    And let’s be thankful for that! – life would be almost intolerable if we were all alike…it is how I imagine living life under a communist regime would be like.

    My Mother’s favourite saying was that they were all part of ‘life’s rich tapestry’.

    Without such a philosophy life would be one of continous angst.

    I once met a fellow who collected the old cardboard milk bottle tops, – and was surprised to learn that there were others like him. Fact is indeed stranger than any fiction…

  2. Ernest,

    Now that brings back memories!

    When we were very small boys, we played ‘milkers’ with those self-same bottle tops, and good fun it was! No expensive electronic garbage for us, mainly because it hadn’t been invented!

  3. Mike,

    Weren’t bottle tops a substutute for ciggy cards? to us ‘poor’ kids, cigarette cards were a form of currency, and far too precious to be used for flicking against a wall…

    Inventive little buggers weren’t we?

  4. Ernest,

    Ciggy cards; Luxury!

    When we were small, we got up half-an-hour before going to bed in a cardboard box, licked the road clean, got beaten by our dad, pieced the torn-up ciggy cards together, then traded them for Horlicks tablets, the drug of choice!

    But we did have fun!!

  5. O.K. Mike,

    Do you also remember what they say about sarcasm?…

  6. There goes another lead ballon!