It’s not very often I get meta about blogging this blog, but indulge me for one New Year’s Eve post.
A naughty little secret has been hiding in plain sight for a while now, alluded to in the ‘Punk Philatelist Manifesto’ page. If you haven’t spotted it, prepare to have your MIND BLOWN.
Thing is, I’m not one person. I’m a collective. I’ve been a collective for a while now. The internet, huh? You can’t trust anyone to be who they say they are.
It’s a lame collective, really. It’s only two people, and to be clear, the person who started me is writing this now. After launching Punk back in 2015, I enjoyed developing a distinctive, cheeky voice a little different from the usual philatelic offerings, and I’ve been very grateful to those readers who responded.
As the pressures of fame (ahem) mounted, I quietly recruited a collaborator on a similar philatelic wavelength. Punk continued to be the semi-fictional frontwoman for our shared manifesto. My apprentice, working under my harsh editorial eye and actual whip, has written a bunch of Punks that we’ve already tricked you into reading.
But now, the time has come for me to hand over the day-to-day (cough) running of the blog. I’m outta here. Bye!
(…Geez! I handed over my whip on my way out the door and now new Punk is making me finish this entry. How the worm has turned.)
We could probably have carried on without mentioning this baton change. Punk could have been handed down from generation to generation, like the Phantom’s suit, and you might never have known. But with occasional requests for ‘Punk’ to step through the screen and show herself in the real world, it’s time for us to creep out from behind the anonymity and be open about who we are.
And by ‘us’, I mean: ‘not me’. I’m staying mysterious for my own reasons. My apprentice, Punk II, can choose when to go public, which he will probably do after the outrage at this brazen fraud dies down. I feel that being actually human will take Punk to the next level: a closer connection to friends and followers; a more intimate sharing of Punk’s personal journey within this hobby without being fearful that a tale told might give away her secret identity. (And let’s not deny that by having a real name and a face, Punk II will be in a position to gratefully accept philatelic contra and first-class flights to your local philatelic exhibition or pop culture convention. But, baby steps.)
I see by your disappointed faces that you have noticed that the new Punk is a man. Yes, she is. I admit I feel a small twinge of guilt owed to the philatelic sisterhood at handing this blog back to the patriarchy. God knows the philatelic world has no shortage of male voices.
But my guilt is soothed by what I’ve learned during this adventure. I started this blog partly because I felt Punk needed to exist. I struggled to find the voice of collectors like me – younger than the average philatelist, less bound to stuffy ‘rules’ of collecting, more appreciative of stamps released in the period since British kings were called George. Much philatelic writing is dry, technical, and delivered from within the worldview of traditional philately. I wanted to change it up a bit.
By my own measure, I only partly succeeded. But I also soon realized that I simply hadn’t searched widely enough.
Punk existed before I began, and continues to thrive today. She lives in blogs written by young and not-so-young collectors. She lives in the joyous spirits of the #incowritemos and the Postcrossers and their determination to keep alive the art of letter-writing. She lives in the hearts of little old ladies at market stalls and teenagers quietly stashing stamps somewhere where they desperately hope their friends will never discover them. She’s impossible to miss on the internet, dancing across Instagram feeds of small-time collectors, and the Etsy stores of stamp-artisans, and YouTube channels of young proselytizers. She is most definitely found outside the (mostly white) Anglosphere to which my own reading was confined – the diversity of languages and colours among Punk’s social media networks attests to that.
And they might scoff at the notion, but one thing I have come to realize is that Punk can even be found in the hearts of those grumpy old men writing the columns about perforation details and printing varieties. They might harrumph when a respectable nation puts a rock star on a stamp, but when chatting to a fellow philatelist, you can come to realize that you’ve been so distracted by a stuffy blazer that you’ve missed the twinkle in the eye.
Punk Philatelist lives wherever anyone is told stamps are too boring, philately isn’t cool, it’s a man’s hobby, you can’t afford it, you’re doing it wrong, or any of the myriad silly reasons you’ll hear, even from your own brain. Punk Philatelist says, don’t listen to those voices. You be you. Philately is about doing your own thing, and Punk says have at it. She’s got your back.
Punk II shares this passion, and I am confident that the blog is in safe, entertaining and equally intermittent hands, and will remain the Punk Philatelist you know and justifiably adore. Punk may occasionally allude to her historical female persona, since she’s become such a part of us, but at least now we’ll all know she’s really a man, like Dame Edna.
I also hope Punk II might rectify my greatest regret: I got way too distracted by shiny new releases, and never covered enough of the classics, nor of the world of traditional philately, with its exhibitions and auctions and stuff. For, despite the impudence, I was never about tearing this house down. I just wanted to build an annex for the kids to play in. (And with the exception of this post, Punk’s already dialled back on the swearing lately. Did you notice? Cute gimmick. Lazy writing.)
I want to mention that even before this handover was on the cards, the collective had mapped out a few pipe dreams for the blog, so if they ever show up, be assured that I was totally into ideas like a bit of ad space and a retail wing and T-shirts, and it won’t just be the new guy ruining everything. If this blog could one day pay for itself as a full-time gig for the resident Punk, then it could only be good for the hobby, and any tweaks towards that end will be totally OK by me.
Thank you so much for your support over the last three years, whether in the form of readership, comments, shares, social media interaction, or – my favorite – vile personal abuse (hello Internet! Love you x). Whether you’re a casual passer-by, a half-hearted hobbyist, or a devoted philatelist, I wish you all the very best for the coming year and for the duration of the path you carve for yourself in this hobby of quiet renegades.
Now I’m off to wherever the hell Wallis and Futuna is. That looks enticing.
Love, old Punk xx
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