Stamp collecting


During the long school holidays of my youth, long before the days of gaming, cable TV and tablets, time could drag a little, especially if it was raining. Which was often.

Parents in those days tended not to drop everything to ensure every moment was scheduled for their little darlings, instead resorting to the mantra of the day “you need to make your own entertainment”.

In hindsight, not a bad philosophy for life ahead.

For me, that often meant dividing my waking hours between watching what passed for children’s TV at the time and whatever ‘hobby’ I had adopted that particular holiday.

Being a boy, this usually involved some form of collection.

For a while, I remember stamp collecting being my hobby of preference. I would steam stamps off envelopes and augmented them with additional purchases of little packets of mixed stamps, before transferring the whole lot into a loosely categorised album.

In hindsight, there was no great focus to my collection. No specialisation. Just a random set of stamps arranged by country of origin.

One year, to my great excitement, I was given a giant Stanley Gibbons stamp catalogue which gave me the chance to assess the market value of my collection, should a prospective purchaser come knocking at my door.

Sadly, I never did uncover that rare ‘Penny Black’ that could have been my meal ticket for many years to come. My collection was pretty much worthless, but it kept me busy.

These days, it seems that I seldom receive a letter in the mail, let alone one with a stamp, so the whole concept of stamps and stamp collecting had receded to the back of my mind. Until recently.

Flicking through the paper one day, I came across an article that instantly transported me back to those childhood days, combining as it did, not one, but two holiday time fillers. Stamp collecting and children’s TV.

Yes, the recently privatised Royal Mail have announced the release of a new set of stamps featuring children’s TV shows from yesteryear. My word, what a nostalgia rush.

Shows such as Magic Roundabout, Camberwick Green and The Wombles  were featured. Relics of a bygone TV era, devoid of cutting edge computer graphics or plots carefully nuanced to appeal to helicopter parents as well as their offspring.

No, just classic characters like Dougal, Windy Miller and Great Uncle Bulgaria.

Struck by the thought of ‘handing down’ my own experiences , I located a DVD copy of Mr Benn on eBay for my own young kids, hoping they would be enchanted by the magical worlds he kept finding beyond the curtain of the costume shop.

And sure enough, despite the somewhat rudimentary animation techniques employed, they were intrigued by the possibilities presented by the storylines.

Next stop the attic to see if I can find any of my old stamp albums before attempting the somewhat trickier task of convincing my boys that stamp collecting is both ‘awesome’ and ‘epic’ and very much something they should be doing.

I’ll let you know how I get on.


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