Thursday, 2 October 2014

Obsession, Hobby or Collection?

Male. Hunter / Gatherer. In the Twentieth Century the role evolved more than a little and now, who knows? Collector is what I like to think. Some call me a hobbyist - terrible word - and others, ‘obsessive’, as if it’s the worst thing a person could be.

As you may have guessed I’m a board gamer. I like playing board games. I love the mental challenges, I love the little gaming components, and I love the social side of it too, it’s about having some fun with like-minded people. It seems it’s the latest in a long list of hobbies I have had although some people have called them my obsessions.

Perhaps it’s because I become completely engrossed in the topic, trying to find out as much as I can about anything to do with it. Maybe it’s because it takes over my allocated space within the Hora home. Or could it just be that I have a passionate nature which is lurching towards the psychological unbalance that has become my life?

From childhood I remember being completely infatuated by Subbuteo, those little plastic men. I had a reasonable collection, much larger than my friends come to think of it. And I had the football, rugby, cricket and 5 a-side versions. I’d play for hours on my own, creating leagues, cup completions, test matches. Solitary it was. There was a little bit of other gaming then too although, with no-one else interested unless it involved a standard pack of cards, it was more something for me to get out and look at in those days. Some things haven’t changed there much.

I was very keen on sport as a youngster too. Hard to believe looking at my stature now but I’d spend hours down the playing field chasing a football around. Loved it. Hence the Subbuteo I guess, and the devotion to Ipswich Town. My first live game was in the 1971/2 season, Ipswich v Derby and we won 3-1. After that I was smitten and hardly missed a home game until Sebastian was born in 2000. I still have a good lump of programmes from those heady days and will try and sell them on if we ever get promoted again..

During the summer my time was split between golf, dad had made me and sis’ learn very young, and cricket. For the amount of golf I have played I should be so much better than I am. However, it’s been one of those off and on relationships and more off since we moved to London all those years ago. Cricket began with test matches on the telly and then learning to score for the game ’Owzat! A dice variation which worked pretty well. I’d buy a nice score book, usually from the sports shop in Southwold I seem to remember, and fill it with match after match, all neatly filled in.

Around the age of 13/14 I discovered music in a huge way. All through a friend, David Hogg, who introduced me to the Incredible Shrinking Dickies and my interpretation from there of punk/alternative music. It was soon off to taping everything on Peel and spending any money I could get on 7”s. A new hobby was begun and this one’s managed to remain constant throughout. I used to dream about going to gigs and now I get to go to them. I used to dream about travelling to exotic European cities to see bands play, and now I get to do that too.  

Another constant has been reading. I love books and have always read. I wish I’d kept a record of all the books I’ve read, it would fascinating to me now. Ah well. There was something very special when I was allowed to raid next doors boxes of books collected for a fete to see if I wanted any of them. Bizarrely, I picked out Susan Hill’s ‘In The Springtime of the Year’ and Jean Genet’s ‘Miracle of the Rose’. Hill is by far my favourite author and I have two new books by her on order at present, can’t wait! Genet’s work was such a beautiful piece, so glad I got to read it. Other authors have come into my life and once enchanted by one I will read their entire output if at all possible. 

When I moved to London my love for film really took off. Cinema City in Norwich still shows the art films and foreign works I adore but to have to pass by the BFI every evening on my commute home was blissful. Cheryl and I were soon watching two or three films a week, and at home I was recording everything possible accumulating a hideous fire hazard of a collection of VHS cassettes. Again the passion for this knew no bounds and I was soon taking holiday to coincide with the London Film Festival and attending as many lectures as possible with film makers. 

For some reason around this time I also began collecting Swatch watches. They were so different in design, and affordable too. I joined the Swatch club and have several rarish versions. There’s a great second hand shop in Zurich we found for older models too. Getting them from the airport was also a good way to buy them cheaper back in the days when the tax made a difference.

When the children were born these forays into collecting turned to Playmobil and Scalextric. Not quite to the extent of previous hobbies I’ll admit but still overwhelming for the children! I was working from home when they were first born and with no travel time I rekindled first the Subbuteo collection and then the board gaming hobby too. Gradually I have sold the Subbuteo as needs must but am sticking it out with the board games. There’s a truly incredible number of games released every year and among them some brilliant designs. I hope this hobby/obsession remains with me now. It’s looking good so far with Wednesday evening sacrosanct and a little family gaming and an odd evening elsewhere too.


  1. Very enjoyable post although as a Norwich City fan I can't agree about Ipswich. My kids love playmobil and I'm gradually increasing my board gaming hope to do more as the kids get older and make a regular family gaming night.

  2. Great article - keep up the good work!