Cotswold Life

Mak­ing sense of the new nor­mal

Pho­to­graphs of life in 2020 would amaze our for­bears for whom masks were only for par­ties and dances

- Con­tact 01452 523966 Hobbies · Wisconsin · Zoom Video Communications · Sotheby's Auction House · Collecting · Stanley Gibbons

All our lives we must make de­ci­sions, but never more so than now. Even with lock­down eas­ing, life is not nor­mal; a threat­en­ing virus is still out there, and we have to avoid com­ing into con­tact with large amounts of it. Pho­to­graphs of life in 2020 would amaze our fore­bears, with ev­ery­one avoid­ing close con­tact with oth­ers, not shak­ing hands, and wear­ing masks. They would have un­der­stood the gloves but not blue plas­tic ones, and masks were only for par­ties and dances. Even nine months ago we would not recog­nise the scene.

When in the mid­dle of last cen­tury when Glouces­ter­shire Fed­er­a­tion pur­chased WI house in Glouces­ter as a meet­ing point for our mem­bers, they could not have known in 2020 we would have had to close it for three to four months. Even af­ter that, in­stead of wel­com­ing vis­i­tors and mem­bers, we will be dis­cour­ag­ing them, ex­cept on ur­gent busi­ness. Vis­i­tors will be asked to make an ap­point­ment, be greeted with hand sani­tisers and asked to wear masks. Not the wel­come that was planned all those years ago. But WI mem­bers are noth­ing if not adapt­able, and we will con­tinue to keep in touch by one means or another.

For those who are techno savvy, this means meet­ings, work­shops and lec­tures by Zoom. For oth­ers it is a phone call, a pack­age left on the doorstep, con­ver­sa­tions down the gar­den path or in the park. Good weather is mean­ing we can meet out­doors to share ideas, pic­nics, cake, etc. We can “show and tell” like the school­child­ren and we have been busy in lock­down. I think as soon as we can have vil­lage stalls, they will be weighed down with home-made jam and cake, knit­ted goods and of course cus­tom made masks for gen­eral wear. Scrubs in the care homes and for care work­ers have taken on a new ap­pear­ance as mem­bers have cut up old du­vets. I hope the fun el­e­ment of wear­ing colour­ful out­fits will con­tinue. One of our mem­bers has been mak­ing dolls in more tra­di­tional out­fits which have proved very pop­u­lar.

There have been a lot of un­fin­ished projects that are now com­pleted, many orig­i­nat­ing from work­shops held in WI House. Sadly, these are not go­ing to hap­pen in the same way as be­fore. The House is old and not de­signed for so­cial dis­tanc­ing let alone hav­ing a tu­tor ex­plain­ing how to do things. How­ever, all is not lost and where we can we are go­ing to have work­shops on Zoom or hold them away from the house in larger venues.

Large meet­ings are a prob­lem as there are so many things that have to be mon­i­tored and num­bers will have to be re­duced un­til so­cial dis­tanc­ing is no longer re­quired. But as soon as we can hold them, we will, they are af­ter all a ma­jor fundraiser for us, with­out them it is dif­fi­cult to main­tain all the ser­vices we pro­vide for mem­bers. A ma­jor set­back was our non-at­ten­dance at the Royal Three Coun­ties Show. But thanks to Worcesters­hire Fed­er­a­tion’s gen­eros­ity we will be there in the main tent next year.

As I said in June, ‘we will over­come’. The ab­nor­mal world is still with us and it it will never be com­pletely be the same. I hope this is in a good way with a greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment and all that means, overuse of re­sources, less pol­lu­tion and wastage. As well as ap­pre­ci­at­ing how lucky we are to have won­der­ful health and sup­port ser­vices in this coun­try.

I am sure the WI mem­bers will adapt to the new norm and we have two new cam­paigns to get our teeth into, more about those next month.

Ac­cord­ing to Sotheby’s, stamp col­lect­ing has con­sis­tently ranked as one of the world’s most pop­u­lar hob­bies since the 1800s. How­ever, the coro­n­avirus out­break ap­pears to have gen­er­ated new en­thu­si­asm for this his­toric pas­time. In April, Stan­ley Gib­bons – the long­est-es­tab­lished rare stamp mer­chant in the world – re­vealed in a COVID-19 up­date that it had ob­served ev­i­dence of more peo­ple dis­play­ing an in­ter­est in the hobby. The group re­ported ‘a grat­i­fy­ing in­crease’ in new clients and ‘ lapsed cus­tomers’ re­turn­ing to the pas­time, as well as ‘a ma­te­rial in­crease’ in web­site and so­cial me­dia plat­form-users.

Vic­to­ria La­jer, manag­ing di­rec­tor of phi­lately at Stan­ley Gib­bons, says that col­lect­ing stamps is ‘ very re­ward­ing’ and has ‘ so much to of­fer’. ‘ You can get as tech­ni­cal or as ba­sic as you want – it re­ally is com­pletely up to you and com­pletely per­sonal,’ she says. The ex­pert be­lieves the ac­tiv­ity is ‘ ac­ces­si­ble and avail­able to ev­ery­body. ‘ You can buy a stamp for 50p – you don’t have to spend £5,000 on [one]’.

If you’re a to­tal novice, don’t worry, as stamp col­lect­ing is easy to get started with. Vic­to­ria sug­gests try­ing to track down ev­ery stamp within a cer­tain coun­try or hunt­ing for stamps of a cer­tain colour. Or, your col­lec­tion could be per­sonal to you. ‘If you have a fam­ily his­tory, there’s no rea­son why your stamp col­lec­tion couldn’t cen­tre around the cor­re­spon­dence from a fam­ily mem­ber dur­ing the First World War, the Boer War or the Sec­ond World War,’ Vic­to­ria says.

Stamps can be sourced via the In­ter­net, deal­ers, auc­tions, and lo­cal and na­tional stamp shows. You can even find stamps in char­ity shops – though

Vic­to­ria ad­vises peo­ple not to be sur­prised ‘when there’s not an ab­so­lute jack­pot find’. As to the equip­ment you should have to be­gin col­lect­ing stamps, Vic­to­ria sug­gests a pair of tweezers, as well as po­ten­tially a mag­ni­fy­ing glass, and says that stamp-stor­age op­tions are var­ied. She notes: ‘You can lit­er­ally spend £10 on a sec­ond-hand stock­book and fill that. You could equally spend £600 on a pre-printed al­bum where you slot in the stamps in the des­ig­nated spots.’

If you’re look­ing to make money from stamp col­lect­ing, it’s im­por­tant to bear in mind that (ac­cord­ing to fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice site Money­mag­pie) only a tiny frac­tion of stamps are valu­able. How­ever, Vic­to­ria coun­ters that many valu­able stamps do ex­ist. Ac­cord­ing to stamp dealer or­gan­i­sa­tion The Philatelic Traders’ So­ci­ety (PTS), stamp col­lec­tions are less likely to pos­sess value if they com­prise First Day Cov­ers of the last 30 to 40 years, com­mem­o­rate a royal wed­ding, birth, an­niver­sary or sim­i­lar, are a gen­eral ‘all world’ col­lec­tion with less than 100 stamps per coun­try or com­prise any form of man­u­fac­tured ‘in­stant’ col­lec­tion. Col­lec­tions are also less likely to have value if the stamps are loose or un­sorted in a bag, or if they are in poor con­di­tion.

How­ever, the PTS says that stamp col­lec­tions may have value if the stamps were is­sued no later than around 1960, in­clude higher face val­ues, are in good con­di­tion, are of an in­di­vid­ual na­tion or coun­tries, and are ar­ranged neatly in al­bums and look like money and care has been spent on them at one point. Mean­while, Vic­to­ria says that qual­ity and scarcity dic­tate a stamp’s price. She ad­vises those want­ing to try to get hold of valu­able stamps to use ‘rep­utable deal­ers’ and con­stantly ‘[strive] for the best qual­ity that you can af­ford’ – and who knows, that hobby could even­tu­ally evolve into a money-spin­ner.

 ??  ?? One of our mem­bers has been mak­ing dolls, which have proved very pop­u­lar
One of our mem­bers has been mak­ing dolls, which have proved very pop­u­lar
 ??  ?? Scrubs in the care homes and for care work­ers have taken on a new ap­pear­ance as mem­bers have cut up old du­vets
Scrubs in the care homes and for care work­ers have taken on a new ap­pear­ance as mem­bers have cut up old du­vets
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? ABOVE:
As a start­ing point, you could con­cen­trate on stamps from par­tic­u­lar coun­tries
ABOVE: As a start­ing point, you could con­cen­trate on stamps from par­tic­u­lar coun­tries

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