Hoards of stuff - and it’s all important ...

Not Paul's house ...
Not Paul's house ...

By Paul McCabe

My name is Paul McCabe and I’m a hoarder.

I don’t mean like one of those people on Channel Four who need to climb over a shopping trolley loaded with egg cups to sleep in a bed full of watering cans and fish slices, but I do like having stuff. Loads of stuff - the more the better.

Flyers, ticket stubs, badges, posters, old letters, promo thingys, football programmes - I keep ‘em all. I’ve got stacks of old music magazines going back over 20 years which I insist should be kept for “research”.

I think I’ve probably only got rid of 10 or so cds or records (remember them?) over the years and it’s rare that I ever give away a book either.

Of course, much to my displeasure it’s all up the loft, which is a bit of a waste of time really, but that doesn’t stop me.

My dad moved house last year I had to go and clear out all the stuff I’d left behind from my childhood and teenage years. Naturally most of it came back with me, which is fine, but I’m a bit too old to wear a badge (though it’s not that long ‘til I’m displaying a blue one in my car – though probably not on Kirkcaldy High St of course...) and I know that I’ll probably never look at most of those books or mags again.

But at least I have actually read them. Where it’s starting to get out of hand is with dvds (incidentally, If you’re expecting the remainder of this article to be an exhaustive and biting comment on consumerism, commerce and human weakness in the face of subliminal corporate advertising you’re going to be disappointed. It really is just about a fool wasting money on dvds).

I now have more dvds than I can ever possibly watch, but I still keep buying them. For example, when the Star Wars Prequels box set came out it had a gazillion hours of geek-heaven extras on it Yes!, thought I and rushed out to get it straight away (well, waited for well over a year til it went into the New Year sales, still...).

I’ve only watched one of the films and haven’t watched a minute of the extras (whilst we’re on the subject both ‘Attack Of The Clones’ and ‘Revenge Of The Sith’ are better than ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. Yeah, that’s right. I said it).

All four series of Starsky & Hutch came out on dvd in the wake of the rubbish Ben Stiller remake. I bought them as soon as they came out so had all four by 2006. To date, I’ve inched to midway through series two and it’ll be years until I reach the end, if ever. Same goes for My Name Is Earl, as well as yet unwatched box sets of Audrey Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock, Rocky Balboa and all the James Bond films. And I can’t imagine I’m alone.

Why then do we buy them? In my case it can be a weird sense of loyalty to a director. I’m a huge fan of Tim Burton so made it my mission to buy all of his films, even the ones that weren’t so great (same with the Coen Brothers). However for others it can be a more of a problem than just being a bit of nerd.

It’s estimated that there are as many as three million hoarders in the UK alone. As of last year the more extreme cases can now be officially recognised as a mental disorder. The most famous hoarding case could be the American brothers Homer and Langley Collyer, who were both crushed to death in 1947 by the rubbish in the house they shared. More than 100 tons of rubbish, including 25,000 books and the chassis of a car, was eventually removed. Kind of puts my little dvd collection into perspective.

But, there is perhaps a small sign that I’ve made a bit of a breakthrough. Because even though it’s going to leave my aforementioned Tim Burton collection incomplete - I’m not going to bother buying Alice In Wonderland or Frankenweenie. Weren’t very good, were they? So even now that they’re probably £3 in HMV’s sale I know that even if I do buy them I’ll never watch them, so I’m not going to.

There, it’s in print now so you can hold me to it.