Have you ever collected stamps.?

I remember at school there were a few kids who used to huddle round someone’s desk at break time and carefully open these little see-through packets of stamps from other countries with pictures of their kings and queens .

They would swap any surplus or duplicate stamps or simply just show off a new acquisition.

I often think back to those days and wonder whatever happened to all that excitement and enthusiasm, and of course the young philatelists themselves.

I was never what you would call a serious collector.

I was more of a spontaneous or opportunistic version of the species. I would collect things that had value.

The empty pop bottle or a ’lost’ golf ball were probably the all-time favourites. They were guaranteed earners.

But collecting them was not without risk.

Technically, we were only salvaging items that we had found in the rough areas of a golf course or at a football match or suchlike.

When you think about it, there is collecting and there is salvage.

True collecting was buying, selling, or exchanging items of value. Stamps, cigarette cards, coins or bank notes. You name it, someone would be collecting it.

Do you remember sweet cigarettes?

You could buy them in sweet shops. Smaller than the real thing, they were white sugar replicas that us tough guys would swagger around pretending to smoke.

Anyway, these replica trainee addiction kits came in replica cigarette packets, each one with its collectors football players cards.

A late friend of mine was a collector of matchboxes. He had hundreds of the things He has long since passed away (I suppose you could say that he’s met his match).

My brother, who has lived across the divide since he was 16, was a one-time beer-mat collector.

We used to share a room until I flew the nest and, when he took up sole occupancy, he stuck his collection on the ceiling.

I collect co-incidences.

When my brother left school he joined the RAF and eventually became an air-crew flight engineer on a Hercules.

The captain of his aircraft was not only a fellow Manxman, he was a Manxman with an unusual habit.

He always wore his carpet slippers to fly the aircraft. His pointless co-incidence was that when he retired, he returned to the island and bought the house next door to us in Greeba.

The Isle of Man and its association with road racing, both cars and bikes, has always attracted the serious collectors, and is home to some rare and valuable examples of both varieties.

You name it, someone will have a collection of them. Speaking personally, I’ve known many collectors of many things: grandfather clocks, Rolex watches and double decker buses, to name a few.

In a cupboard above my head, there are dozens of paperbacks that I have collected over the years.

Some folk have vast collections of recorded music and others chose recipe books.

I knew one man who had a vast collection of banknotes and coins.

There are collections of things that are so valuable that they have to be hidden away and others that would be better off if they were to be thrown away.

But ultimately so what? When it all boils down, what does it matter?

Enjoy your memories. They may not cost much money but they are worth a fortune.

Just to end, the phone rang when I was writing this column. I was told the sad news that my cousin Vera had passed away. She is at rest with Jack. We have lost a kind and gentle soul who will be long remembered. Bless.