Thursday, 9 February 2012

Memories of a headless man – a collector or a hoarder?

Gill @ Write on Wednesdays has given us the task of writing on collections, or collectors this week. Pop by and look at other people's offerings!

He had lived in the neat house on the inner suburban street for well over 60 years. He moved in with his wife, then brought up his sons and as they moved on, one by one, he lived alone. He had a cat for company from time to time.
He was the ideal quiet neighbour, his loss of hearing a comfort to us on our sleepless nights with crying babies. Sociable when engaged, but innately insular, he kept to his home. He never had visitors, apart from the home care lady and his sons. As he became older and needed more help, we were invited by necessity into his home to help him in the aftermath of falls and leg injuries.  Terrible osteoporosis had rendered him bent at the waist, his head invisible from behind.

He had a secret life, collecting, well, everything! Jars of screws, nails, bolts, cottonballs, washed margarine containers, icecream tubs, cotton spools, used matches, newspapers, and magazines – all were neatly labelled and collated. He knew exactly where everything was. Anything with a purpose was put away in case it was needed.
His house was jammed with collections of all descriptions, mainly household hardware and haberdashery. And data…weather data. Millions of pieces of plain paper, with sunrise and sunset, minimum and maximum temperature and rainfall documented for every day of the previous 60 years. All in tiny writing, never a day missed.

I always wondered if the house had been like this when his wife was alive, whether she tolerated (or encouraged?) his obsessiveness. Was he always like this or had he learnt it through hard times – he had seen 2 wars and The Great Depression.  What had his children thought of it? Did he find it a satisfying comfort or a distressing compulsion?

Thinking back, I never asked him why. I guess it was none of my business, it was just what he did.


  1. That was wonderful writing, and very interesting to read. He sounds like a wonderful man, despite his obsession, and I found myself rooting for him to be ok throughout his illness. I love this piece!

  2. interesting story... thank you for stopping by and reading my collection post.... :D

  3. I agree with Claire, wonderful writing and intriguing read. I did feel quite sad though. I think the collecting of the data is fascinating. I can imagine this character in a novel. Loved it.

  4. I like this character...He is very interesting...Like you, it has left me wondering why he was a collector....


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