A lockdown occupation


Clearing the garage.
A trip down memory lane.
I found a stamp album,
Stanley Gibbons, mid 50’s.
Stern instructions on how to handle stamps.
Tweezers, not fingers,
Hinges, not glue.


I was never a dedicated philatelist.
Quantity not quality was my aim.
Bags of stamps bought for 6d
From a shop on Bath Road.
After a visit to the Museum.
Crocodile with a Mint Polo
In its mouth.


Home on the bus.
No standing on the upper deck,
No spitting but you could smoke.
Sort into countries,
Fingers not tweezers
Hoping to find a Penny Black.
Checking against my Stanley Gibbons catalogue.


I was a serial hobbyist.
Philatelist then Phillumenist.
I couldn’t be fagged with Cartophily.
Dinky toys and Airfix kits came and went.
Airfix aircraft going down in smoke
When mum went shopping.


I became a Ferroequinologist
Iron Bridge for the Iron Horse.
Collecting engine numbers.
Unwitting tribute to my town’s heritage,
Abandoned when I got a racing bike.


Sedate Swindon and District Road Club for me,
Swindon Wheelers being a bit racey.
Orange F.C. Parkes frame, double “clanger”
Derailleur gears, 10 speed,
Lime green mudguards.


Wandering Wiltshire with Paddy O’Neil.
Who caused bike-envy when he bought a
Chrome Claude Butler with red mudguards.
12 speed.
Last minute Sunday morning Headland’s homework rushed
To join the tour.


A Toad of Toad Hall conversion
On the road to Old Town.
Gad, a 1935 Morris 8
Bought for £5.
Straight through exhaust,
Double de-clutch through the gears.
Turning girl’s heads,
Roaring up Regent street.


Better things were to come.
1934 Ford 8 Y-type.
Only 5,000 miles on the clock.
Painted it British Racing Green,
Buttercup yellow spoked wheels.
£15 and worth every penny
When I sold it for £20 two years later
To Paddy O’Neill.


Time passes.
Until I define a hobby essentials as
“Expensive and esoteric”.
Photography fit the bill.
Cameras, lens, cases and filters,
Exposures and stops.


More time passes.
Middle age crisis prompts jogging.
Lycra leggings, Bingley Harriers vest.
Expensive running shoes.
100 miles a week,
5ks, 10ks, half-marathons,
And ruptured Achilles tendon.


Two pairs of shoes found in the garage.
Think of an ad.
“Asics Gels, 20 years old.
Low mileage,used by
A little old man on Sundays”.


Open the stamp album.
Fusty smell of damp pages.
Stamps from countries that no longer exist.
Exotic stamps, Triangular stamps.
Brightly coloured stamps of
Planes and Boats and Trains.


Leading me round in a circle
Like my first clockwork Hornby OO train set,
To the hobby I remember most.