Thirty-Fourth Thing: Badge of Honour

Apart for hoarding blue things, I’ve never been much of a collector – unlike my sister, whose carrier bag collection is legendary – however as I child, we both had pretty good button badge collections. I don’t remember how it started, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t collect badges, but I took lots of pleasure in organising them according to size on a corkboard in my bedroom and was even lucky enough to receive not one, but two Blue Peter badges for being a runner-up in the competitions I so avidly entered (alas I never made it to a short-list – which would have got me on telly – and I STILL think my designs for the new bosses in York Minster were better than the winners’).

Some badges came from the places we visited – a great many cathedrals and museums – and became a kind of travel journal, or sometimes they were souvenirs from friends and family, from places they’d visited – reminding me of the great wide world beyond my bedroom. Others were more political (“Coal Not Dole“, “Nuclear Power: No Thanks” and my favourite “Half a mind to vote Tory? That’s all you need” – which I wore throughout the run up to the 1983 general election, much to the amusement of my primary school teachers – not that it did any good).  Apparently half-wittedness has a new political allegiance these days, perhaps I need a new badge.

For reasons that now escape me, from time to time there was a heavy, metal badge making machine in our house (not a heavy metal badge making machine, though come to think of it, I did have an AC/DC badge in my collection, without knowing who they were – I am probably still just as vague about them, as I am about AC/DC mains electricity too, but we’ll get onto that another time). This meant we could also make our own badges, and enjoy the transformation of a felt-tip pen drawing into something we could wear. So, when I came across a second-hand badge maker on ebay, I couldn’t resist (not least given its inherent blueness). And now I can see that every scrap of blue patterned paper, fabric or ribbon being given new life. I don’t think the badge collector of my childhood would have been very impressed (badges without pictures or words seemed a waste of time and couldn’t be easily alphabetised in the database – yes I was that sad!) but perhaps an appreciation of the abstract and un-political is a sign of a mature mind.

Tools / special requirements: Badge maker and, most importantly, lots of refills

Time taken: 15 minutes

Things learned: Not to be confused with blue badges, or Blue Peter badges, the Blue Badge tourist guide is said to have been conceived in 1950 by seven guides who met at the George Inn in Southwark, London.

Satisfaction (1-10): 6 – they’re not as solid as the badges of yesteryear, plus I’m not sure the badge maker is going to last very long with its plastic parts. Bring back durable metal.

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