“I’m weight training” he calls out from his study as I enter the flat. I laugh and tell him that’s good; he could do with a bit of exercise. “I know, my arms are turning to mush, it’s embarrassing… not what they used to be”, he jokes back. I carry the shopping bags into the kitchen and put them down by the sink, trying to avoid stepping on the cat as she winds in and out between my legs, hoping for a mid-afternoon snack.
“Richard asked me to look through this very interesting collection, it’s from a friend of his father’s… her husband recently passed away, and she has no idea what to do with it. It’s mostly
My father is a stamp collector, and hasn’t actually done any weight training in years (although in his youth he was very athletic and once cycled 150 km just to see a football match, and then back again at the end of the game). But he only lifts stamps now.
I suppose stamp collection is a hobby of the past, but it is one that suits my father’s temperament and personality particularly well. He’s a shy man, he’s always been very hard on himself and he has lived most of his life with a sometimes crippling sense of social inadequacy. Stamp collection has served as something of an anchor; it has given him both stability and peace, but just as importantly it has also provided him with a social scene where he has always felt completely at ease.
Being a collector is a fundamental part of my father’s identity and the security it has given him has always extended to me and my mother, and at no time was this more apparent to me than when I was a child. I have an abundance of wonderful evening memories from my childhood when I would be lying in my bed at night, just about to drift off to sleep. The light would be on in the study, and I could see his shadow bending over the desk as he searched through reference books, looking for that all-important connection between a particular stamp and a particular post mark.