This may be a little gender specific but when I was six years old, fancy paper was MY LIFE. My older brothers were mystified by this fad of basically collecting and swapping small pieces of coloured paper, with pictures of puppies in love, or Strawberry Shortcake, or Strawberry Shortcake petting puppies. These pointless (because God knows you would never dare write on them), and totally worthless scraps of paper were stored in a shoebox covered with…you guessed it, more fancy paper. Fancy paper is still in circulation today; people call them Post-its.
Without sounding all Angela’s Ashes, Irish kids got great value out of stones and rocks. Depending on your childhood sensibilities you could collect them in jars and respect their own inherent, honest beauty; find flat ones and deface them with your juvenile scrawls or chuck them at people. Today’s children, drinking their lattes and distractedly swiping their iPads probably find it bizarre that as kids we raced excitedly around the garden in Kerry on holidays looking for ‘good rocks’. Ditto for shells.
3. Coins and money
Oh yeah, we collected money, but not in a Gordon Gecko way. No, these were simple times, when getting a pair of coloured shoelaces from your aunt in America was enough to blow your tiny mind so getting actual legal tender from a foreign country, even if it wasn’t enough to buy a piece of chewing gum would send you through the roof.
Keyrings are dead handy aren’t they? Help you find your keys when they are down the end of your bag or stuffed into a pocket full of other crap, but when you were an kid keyrings were not pragmatic, kids don’t even have keys for Chrissake, they were for FUN.
Keyrings were a fashion statement and it was not at all like those weird people on Hoarders to have like, thirty fly keyrings on you at any one time.
Do you remember thinking as a kid:
‘What? You mean if eat seven large boxes of Cornflakes I can send off for my very own plastic cereal bowl?
And they’ll post it here, to my house?
What happiness is this?
What have I done to deserve such spoils?'
Well I do.
Looking back now, it’s easy to be cynical.
Maybe the people at Coco Pops weren’t the benevolent benefactors I once imagined. Oh sweet bird of youth…
Comic books were the ultimate prize.
A) Because they were full of awesome drawings of brilliant stuff, unlike every other lame-ass book you had to read when you were in school and b) Because Spiderman.
I recall giving serious thought to whether Spiderman would make a better husband than Captain America.
I know people who devoted large portions of their entire childhood to the pursuit of one elusive Panini sticker.
And while I don’t have first hand experience of how drug lord operate in Bogota, I imagine it is about as intense a business as the sticker trade in any Irish playground in the '80s.
Likewise for a several years when you were small, every magazine you bought was weighed not on the quality of the editorial content, but on what class stickers came free inside.