Oh hi! I’m back. It’s been a while. Sorry about that. Sometimes my day-job demands long days for extended periods. I hope you won’t be offended when I tell you that when time is short, I commonly prioritise other side-interests, like my marriage, and eating.
But I’m always lurking on the socials – here I am on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and I sometimes pop up in comments on YouTube and Discord. During my recent hiatus, the churn of philatelic activity on those channels prompted some navel-gazing. So let’s lift my shirt and pick through the warm, linty thoughts nestling in the folds of my Covid kilos!
In the belly button of the beast
When this blog started 1, there wasn’t much philatelic content online outside of dealer websites and 1990s-style chatboards. Most philatelic writing that I had access to was either post office PR, or stamp magazine columns. Both of those could be informative, but sometimes risked lulling the reader to sleep.
So I aimed to write something a bit different, and along the way, I began to realise there WAS more engaging stuff around; I’d just been looking in the wrong places. I started a blogroll of links, but it has since become laughably inadequate. I haven’t been able to keep up with the recent explosion of content, and it doesn’t even begin to cover the huge diversity on social media. Who even needs my blogroll when the Digital Philatelist now runs an entire website devoted to telling you what’s happening in online philately?
(Side note: my blogroll is still worth clicking through. It’s called ‘More Online Philately’ and it can be found somewhere near this article, if you’re reading it on a browser and not in your email. Shoutout to subscribers who ARE reading this in your email. Did you know that there are thousands of you?)
There is SO MUCH going on now. And a permanent effect of the Great Covid Lockdown Philatelic Revival of 2020 is the flow of communication between collectors on a global scale. It’s easy to surf recommendations from YouTube channel, to blog, to podcast, to Instagram feed. Likes and retweets and mentions and hashtags: this is how we dig each other’s stuff now. I love it.
There’s been one drawback to it all. I have a long list of ideas that I want to write up. A bunch of them are How To guides, because I know that many readers are new or returning collectors who are seeking information; a bunch more are crazy-dumb historical stories about stamp issues, characters, or controversies, stories that I wanted to tell in engaging ways, in the hope of turning curious netizens into new collectors.
Turns out, I’m too slow. You’ve all collectively gone and beaten me to the best ones. I’m mainly looking at you, Graham Beck of Exploring Stamps. I regularly curse Graham’s name as I strike another topic off my list. But I can’t hold it against him when he does such a fantastic job of telling these stories. Many have now followed in his footsteps, especially on Youtube; the only reason I’m not naming them right now is that I will inevitably forget someone deserving.
I have a cunning plan
So, I reckon it’s time to wind back the scope of this blog. I’m hanging up my saviour complex. No one needs me to guide them through the hobby or explain Machin stamps to them, not when there are now a dozen other websites and YouTube videos custom-made for that purpose. I’m also done explaining how the internet works. If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably got the gist. Furthermore, I am going to try really hard to resist my natural urge to research EVERYTHING about a topic before I start writing about it. It means every post takes way too long to write, and it results in posts that are too long to read. (How are you going with this one, by the way? This is the edited version. I do bloody love a chat, don’t I?)
So, Punk is returning to home base: gut reactions to new issues and irreverent digs at philatelic culture. I also want to share more with you about the stuff that I’m personally into. The internet is cool and all, but surely no Wordle game or cybercurrency investment will offer the same thrill as reading about my tentative steps towards exhibiting my collection of Australia’s 1984 Clipper Ships stamps on commercial cover.
Not sure I’m selling it, to be honest. How about I just start with a photo of some recent purchases? I’m now collecting France to complement my latest attempt to learn French, and I’ve started Estonia because I fell in love with the country when I visited a few years ago. I went to a club auction to view the Estonian collection, and because the lots were laid out alphabetically, the French collection was right next to it. Vive la impulse buy!
I can promise something else: I will continue to drop off the radar now and then. Luckily, I have seven years of back-catalogue here at the site. And during my time away from the blog, I did some back-end graphics housework. Every one of my 95 old posts how has a ‘feature image’. That’s the rectangular image you see at the top, which also appears as the thumbnail in your social media feed when you share an article. Previously, many older posts would just import a random image (or all of them), which would look rubbish in your feed; now, they’ll look so awesome that your friends won’t be able to resist clicking the link and coming back to thank you. (*Not guaranteed.) So, the next time I’ve gone quiet and you feel like a dose of Punk, hit up my site and scroll down. Some posts are now completely irrelevant, but during my overhaul, I enjoyed revisiting that time that heaps of countries released fondue stamps, the UK’s fabulous Great Fire of London issue, and my deep-dive on the popularity of vintage posters on stamps. Plus, my call to arms for all people of goodwill to Fight the Boring and put stamps on their mail will never date. To quote a local radio station manager who didn’t understand how Twitter works, make it go viral!
(There was actually one image that I didn’t fix; it remains stubbornly vertical, because it looks so great on my homepage that I don’t care what it does to your Facebook feed. See if you can spot it.)
The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen!
Oh, and I have a new logo. Did you notice? The Punk Queen has served me well over the course of her two iterations. I’ll miss the old girl, she really helped to establish the brand of this blog, if I can use that phrase without vomiting. (I can’t. Back in a minute.)
(…OK, good to go.) But it’s time to farewell Her Majesty, as just as we will probably farewell her real-life human inspiration sometime within the next twenty years. Don’t come at me, I’m just calling it as I see it.
Anyway… meet the new Punk! He’s less serious, more excited, a little closer to me in real life, and he’ll come in very handy for some plans I’m cooking up. But just like me, he also respects philatelic tradition. You might notice he’s still on the same Punk-red stamp, he is still denominated PP, and he is even the same colour as the background of the first version of this website. I’m not actually that sentimental, it just happened to work.
I’m going to run off now and write some more posts while I can. Thanks heaps for your ongoing support of the blog, thanks even more for your patience, and don’t hesitate to drop a comment below or say hi on social media. And if you’re one of the many collectors out there sharing your passion and keeping me entertained on my bleary-eyed late-night train rides home over the last few months, thank YOU for what you do. Philately will never have the numbers that it once did, but it is indisputably undergoing a generational change and I am totally here for it. (Except when I’m not.)
1 Full disclosure: this blog began as a personal creative challenge written in a fictional persona which led to a tangled web of lies involving pseudonymous emails and ultimately a concocted handover from the fictional persona to the real-life writer before I finally came clean and although I completely own my actions now, I never fully addressed it on the blog because by then at least half of Punk’s followers had never known the fictional persona, and if you’re an OG reader who hadn’t caught up on all that and you now feel retrospectively cheated, I apologize profusely, because I swear I never set out intending to deceive anyone, one thing led to another et cetera, let’s put that all behind us shall we, why dredge all that up now? Alternative take: how punk is THAT? Hey, show me your stamps!
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