A scrapbook of your life. (Activity 24)

OK, you do need a bit of kit for this one, unlike most of my other suggestions.

The most basic requirements are a book in which you’re going to stick the “scraps” (about which, more later), some glue and a pen.

There are many scrapbooks available online or in larger supermarkets. The old-fashioned “sugar paper” type have a lot of atmosphere about them (thick, absorbent paper pages that can come in several different, muted colours – or just grey). They are difficult to write onto, however; but if you write or print out your explanations on white paper, then cut that to size and stick it near the “scrap”, that can look fantastic.

Some more sophisticated scrapbooks – e.g. those that have large spiral bindings – come with their covers already designed. If you go for the basic model, though – which is usually stapled together – you have the extra option of covering your book in your own choice of paper, making it even more individual. Wrapping paper is an obvious choice to use here, but old-fashioned waxed paper is possible, as are more unusual things such as old maps or pieces of sheet music that you’ve finished with. Newspapers are possible, but unlikely to last long without tearing, and one of the purposes of a cover on your scrapbook is to protect it from wear and tear. Newsprint can also come off on your hands and lead to dirty marks on the inside pages. Much better to save newspaper for the contents of your scrapbook . . . .

There are many, many everyday things that you take for granted now but which will change or disappear in coming years. You may not value these things now, but in times to come they may have monetary value, and even if not, they will have a fascination for you that you probably can’t imagine at the moment.

For example: when my brother and I were growing up, we would occasionally be given a Matchbox model car. These were very small, scaled models of real cars, vans, lorries, etc, made in metal and with what now seems extraordinary attention to detail. They had tiny wheels which went round and allowed you to run the vehicle – by pushing it – across the floor or a table or other smooth surface. The little doors could be opened and closed. Lorries carried advertisements for actual products. And they came in small cardboard boxes, about 3cm by 3cm by 6 cm. We used to throw the boxes away, usually, and as we grew older the cars, vans and lorries were either broken (not easy, as they were sturdy little things) or forgotten about.

Today, Matchbox model vehicles are worth a considerable amount on the collectors’ market.

We couldn’t have put the cars into our scrapbooks (if we’d been keeping scrapbooks, which we weren’t) but we could have pasted in a flattened box or two, and explained what it was and when and why we came across it.

Chocolate and sweet wrappers are other things that you probably take for granted, but if these change as much in your lifetime as they have in mine, you’ll be amazed how many memories come back to you, as you look at the old wrappers in times to come! Chocolate bars used to come in an internal wrapper which was thin foil, with an outer sleeve of printed paper. Nowadays most bars come in single, sealed plastic wrappers.

Your task is to start building a collection of objects from your everyday life – particularly now, during Covid19-restricted times – and to stick them in your scrapbook. Each time, write a short description of where and how this object figures in your life, and stick or write the description next to the object. Best to include the date, as well.

If you have the inclination (that is, if you feel like doing so), write too about how the object makes you feel. Don’t be afraid to include things that you might not want to reveal to others; after all, you don’t have to show this collection to anyone else. (But make sure that you keep it in a safe place, if you don’t want anyone else to see it.)

If you want to collect objects which can’t be stuck into your scrapbook, you could expand your collection by putting larger, or 3D, objects into clear, sealable plastic bags (such as freezer bags) – one object per bag – then labelling each one with a number. Write about that object and make a note of its number, then stick the description into your scrapbook and keep the object itself in a box alongside the scrapbook. Be careful only to store clean, dry objects and not to store anything which will rot, such as food.

Alternatively, you can take a photo of a large or bulky object, and stick a hard copy of that in the scrapbook along with a written description.

Your phone might well feature in your scrapbook; it will be interesting to see the different models that you use over the years. Take a photo of your phone (use a mirror if need be), and stick that in your scrapbook along with the date and a description of how you use it, what your favourite uses are, etc.

Newspapers and magazines are a great source of informative “scraps”. You can cut out articles, or photos, or adverts, or games, stick each one in your scrapbook and then write about why you’ve chosen it and what it means to you/how it figures in your life.

Try to keep adding to your scrapbook over the weeks to come, even although you’re bound to slow down after the initial gathering of stuff from your everyday life. Keep it safe, and in years to come you (and possibly your children?!) will marvel at how your life looked in 2020.

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