Herding the Madness Hamsters

What do you do if your body doesn’t work very well, and your mind lets you down regularly, and you have to keep yourself occupied and control the Madness Hamsters?*

Well, it depends on your interests. My ideal self is an Art Historian**. It’s what I’ve been interested since I was 7 years old, that and the History of Dress – which is a serious discipline, but one that is frequently frowned upon. It’s very difficult to be actively interested in Art and Architecture when you’re stuck in bed. So I live vicariously. Before the internet I had to purchase a lot of books. When I was a student, the internet was not as well developed with regard to the arts as it is now. There were few image websites, and Galleries had weak, under developed web-presences. Many have only just gained web catalogues etc. But they have, and that is a boon for people like me. People who like pretty things, but can’t leave the house.

So I spend a lot of time looking at pictures etc. on the Internet. Pictures of pictures, or sculpture, or buildings or pottery or old clothes and movie costumes. I don’t do anything exciting like play games. I just click through hundreds of images to see if I’ve already seen them. It keeps my obsessive side nicely fed, and corrals the Madness Hamsters.

Here is a favourite website: http://www.recycledmoviecostumes.com/

I have a mini-obsession with watching to spot if costumes have been re-used in historic dramas/ classical book adaptations across different media (TV and Film). It was film that stoked my interest in historic dress.

*The Madness Hamsters. They are not my invention, they belong to Edward Monckton – a comic illustrator. I found them on a Greetings Card and they fitted my mental state perfectly. I imagine bits of my brain scrabbling around as I try to remember stuff or as I spiral into mental darkness.


**Why do I think of myself as an Art Historian? Because that is what I studied at University. It’s all I was interested in until I was nearly 30. It kept me sane as a child and drove me insane in my early 20’s. So I have a Love/Mad relationship with it. I’d also like to point out that in the UK, particularly London, it’s quite expensive to be interested in Art. Many National Galleries are free, and that is amazing, but the surrounding area (cafes etc.) and transport are not. I have to use multiple buses and tubes to get to places (more than an average person as I can’t walk at either end) and that is very expensive now. Spending about £10 on travel to get to a free gallery makes the trip a luxury. If you are going to an exhibition with a fee, you can add £15 to the £10. So an exhibition costs £25 before refreshments or a postcard. I bring my own water bottle and I don’t eat out, but I still can only afford a show every couple of months at most. The amount of shows I’ve booked to see and have missed due to ill health is massive, and one day I will post about this.


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