Hello, I am a hoarder!’ was published in the Strathclyde Telegraph, February 2015
“There she’s at it again – she’s got the camera phone oot!”
It’s become a running joke among my close friends and I that I, crazy camera phone lady, will never be on time for anything because I cannot resist a good photo op when I see one. What started out as a small, fulfilling hobby on a personal level has grown into a carefully nourished pastime following the discovery of Instagram late last year (yep, it’s not just trains I’m late for). I figured that if those amaro and willow filters can make even my hungover selfies actually look quite polished and healthy, then the editing possibilities of carefully photographed landscapes could enable me to attain some pretty stunning outcomes. I wasn’t wrong.
I’ve always been a hoarder. You can tell that just from walking past my bedroom when the door’s open: before you are bookshelves lined with shells from Malaga beaches, stones from Balqhuidder lochs and pens from every Freshers goodie-bag on the go since 2013. There’s a canvas as tall as my shoulder mounted on the wall opposite them; the clichéd ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ slogan is concealed beneath a plethora of gig, theatre and charity night tickets, Hard Rock Café pins, cards from two birthdays ago and labels from garments I’ve particularly warmed to over the years (wore to death).
We won’t mention the 100 or so postcards on the side of my wardrobe gathered from every new place I’ve set foot in since discovering I liked to collect postcards. Only four of them `actually have messages on the back (big shout out to my dad and boyfriend for those!).
People often ask when they watch those hoarder programmes on TV what makes a person form a bond with a piece of – well – rubbish, like an old clothes label from a jumper long journeyed into the afterlife via the charity shop? For me, it’s not the fact that that cardigan was in the top end of my budget as an unemployed 16 year old. It’s what I accomplished wearing it. Yip – looking back, it was actually quite a horrific winter staple with a huge big fur lined hood and some weird skirt thing, knitted with wool the colour of the pot when you got ‘mix-happy’ with the paints during second year Art. But I wore that jumper to school during my turbulent Highers phase, and on one of the best, and last, family holidays we had in Centre Parcs, and to every single outing down to the swing park with my friends in the unlimited summer. I want to remember a thing like that and all the good times it shared with me.
I believe my obsession with remembering is what inevitably pushed me into compulsive photography and is ultimately why people still hoard today.
Before photos, it was journaling. I had this weird and indescribable need to write down everything good that ever happened to me for fear that one day I’d forget to be thankful. As a result, I have 9 or 10 notepads boxed away in the loft to die CRINGING over when I move out. But I’m glad I have them. Like the photos I cram up your feed with, I captured those things because they were perfect in the moment. And though they might not have affected me directly, they startled me enough to make me miss a train and seize their beauty with a click.
One day I’ll come across a picture and be able to tell you exactly what I did the day that tree shaded the fountain in Kelvingrove Park like that. I’ll remember and be thankful for that day. So, if having a little more things to dust in my room, and a few more trains to catch half an hour later, are all I have to pay to recall the things that once made me smile, then shoot me!
I am a hoarder.