Monday, 24 September 2012

Spring Cleaning – Part 1

Every few years I “spring clean” the different hobby section of my life. I’ve never worked out what prompts this sudden urge for change and I suspect it is usually caused by an accumulation of small factors that sudden reach a tipping point rather than one major event. But one thing is certain - I can still remember the broad details of all the seismic shifts in my leisure time activities right back to the 1970s.
In those pre-internet and pre-email days all my hobbies were either conducted face-to-face or via the Royal Mail. It was a very different world back in the late 70s through to the mid-1980s. Younger, less experienced, members of hobby based societies were barely tolerated by the Old Guard: many of whom were either founder members of the group or had had been in place for decades.  The groups were largely run for the convenience of this small minority and with more modern eyes the standard of customer service and the value for money they offered were extremely low.

I played a great deal of postal chess and the National Correspondence Chess Club was an honourable exception to the widespread problems I mentioned earlier. My decision to stop playing was due entirely to the ever increasing tendency of some members to use home computers to do all the brain-work with only the most minimal human intervention. Some would call this cheating! Playing under these circumstances was pointless and demotivating and I left the hobby never to return.

During the 1980s I had gradually moved into the administration of philatelic societies and into philatelic exhibiting.  I went into both with my eyes wide open so it didn’t come as a big surprise when both ended badly. I came to the rescue of the Great Britain Overprints Society by acting as journal editor for the “Overprinter” but also by selling most of my extensive collection through the society. This gave a big boost to GBOS coffers but even that wasn’t enough to stop the knife being surgically applied when the men behind the throne wanted to re-establish control. I left British-based organised philately sometime prior to 1990 and with the sole exception of a few years as a casual member of a local Northampton based group never went back. For the last 20 years all my stamp hobby work has involved groups based in the USA.

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