9th July 2012
“Apart from the traditional sports and hobbies, young people today have the added choice of television, electronic games and the Internet . . . the key is for philately to be seen to be fun”
(Brian Trotter, RDP, FRPSL, speaking in 2004)
Last week a very nice lady wrote to me commenting that I am one of the ‘younger’ people in the stamp world. “Good heavens,” I thought, thus proving that I am not young at all, as I believe that the correct response today should be “OMG, like . . . whatever.”
The sad truth is that at 51 I am indeed still one of the younger members of this profession although Grosvenor as a whole is a rather well-balanced, youthful company, our average age having been further reduced last week by the arrival our latest member of staff, Tom Margalski. Tom has joined us this summer to strengthen our team for the new season and we trust that he will find the company welcoming and much less stern than in the ‘bad old days’ of stamp auctioneering when, for example, Phillips Director David Boyd would send naughty describers to stand in the corner for ten minutes if they misbehaved at Stampex or other exhibitions.
We trust also that Tom will discover that, although we work hard and take our duties very seriously, we do try to remember that we are representing a hobby which, if it is to secure its future, must find ways to engage with people, both young and old, who are seriously distracted by the shorter term attractions of the evil television or computer screen.
Good stories, amusing or otherwise but illustrative of the many aspects of what we study, are what we must tell if we are to lure these people in.
My favourite (and true) tale of philatelic mischief concerns a series of mystery parcels that were delivered in Belgium a few years ago addressed mainly to middle-aged ladies.
Each package was underpaid with a postage due requirement of around £6. Having paid this and opened the package the recipients were puzzled to find that it would contain only a brick and a telephone number which, when rung by these ladies in their understandable state of considerable annoyance, they found connected them to a hapless military attaché to the Portuguese delegation at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
So many calls were received that the attaché’s phone had to be disconnected yet the identity of the perpetrator was never discovered.
And they say there is nothing funny about living in Belgium . . .