Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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It must be over 30 years since I visited a fascinating manor house in the Cotswolds – Snowshill Manor. Apparently, it was owned by an eccentric (and presumably rich) Englishman called Charles Wade, who lived himself in a small hut in the garden because there was no room for him in the house – it was full of collections. Mr.Wade, it seems, collected collections – or butterflies, sword guards, bicycles, toys, masks, clocks and samurai warrior costumes – to name but a few.
What is the attraction of collecting? Mr Wade surely wasn’t interested in all those objects for themselves, I can’t imagine that he was an expert on all those things. His pleasure, or a large part of it, must have come from the joy of accumulating the objects. So I think it was probably less about the objects themselves than about the hunt for them. Before the days of the internet, collectors must have had to trawl through second hand shops and to have relied on a network of contacts to accumulate the things that interested them. Nowadays, the eBay and other sites make collecting a whole lot easier – and maybe rather less fun.
Collecting has an addictive quality, and I think the fascination of the process extends beyond the collection of objects. Some people, for example, collect knowledge. We’ve all seen the people on quiz shows who seem to know everything about a certain subject and, here again, I think that these people find pleasure in accumulating knowledge, just as others love to gather objects.
Objects, knowledge – and people. Some people love to collect people! In business, in academia, in other walks of life, networking can be very important, and the process of finding and making connections can offer the same attractions as other collections. Look at Facebook! Some people just love to collect friends – even if they’re people that they’ve never met, it’s still one more name in the collection.
People collect real friendships, not just virtual ones, of course, and this can go hand in hand with a collection of facts about those people, perhaps in the somewhat unhealthy form of gossip. Here, there is also the excitement of getting to know someone well – to understand what “makes them tick”, or of building a bond. To collect an object, you need to find it, buy it, and put it on a shelf. To collect a person, you need to meet them, understand them and…..
Those dots can be a problem. The natural end to the process can seem to be to have sex with the person you have got to know. And once that’s happened, the person is in your collection and they can be forgotten about – it’s on to the next person, the next addition to your collection. Many “serial cheaters” have this sort of mind set, I think.
Breaking this sort of pattern can be tough, but as with many behavioural habits, the first step is to recognise what is going on, and then to understand the effects on others. And what is important for the collector of sexual partners? Perhaps philately can provide an alternative amusement….?