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(Credit: Bent Rej)

Music

Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones and his bizarre obsession

We all have our little quirks; the little rings we throw our hats into from a young age often follow us through to our adult years. Childhood attachments and obsessions are a healthy comfort to many of us, whether it’s a cuddly toy, a blanket from the cot that’s grown tired and old with you now resembling an irreplaceable tattered smelly rag, or a collection of Beano comic books gathering a layer of dust in the loft. Whatever your obsessions are, they make you who you are, and provided that you aren’t bidding your life savings away on eBay for that tattered comic book to complete your collection, you should be proud to have them as part of your personality. 

For my grandmother, it was little stone ornaments of small houses that did it for her, her house was absolutely littered with the things. As a young boy I would be amazed by them all, the brilliant display showed you a great deal about her before one even got to know her. For me, it’s music; ever since I was a child I enjoyed collecting things within my price range, so naturally, it started out with free things like corks and bottle-tops discarded after my parents’ parties, but later, once I’d saved up enough for a record player, it was vinyl that took over. Steadily collecting over the past few years, I’ve built up a sum that I’m just about satisfied with, yet thankfully isn’t quite enough to encroach on my living space. 

As a bit of a die-hard Rolling Stones fan, my collection proudly sports a number of their greatest LPs. Upon hearing that Bill Wyman has a collecting habit of his own, I assumed that he must have had some builders in to strengthen the floor beneath his music room to prevent a ton of vinyl avalanching its way through the ceiling below – surely, I thought, his obsession was music-related. 

Alas, as it transpired, Wyman’s obsession has nothing to do with music. Instead, he has the most obscure obsession of collecting pretty much anything to do with the comic strip character Rupert Bear. The character first appeared in 1920 as a small children’s feature in the Daily Express newspaper. The strips were such a success that books collating the stories of Rupert Bear were published, and every year from 1936 onwards, a Rupert annual has been released. 

When asked about his obsession a few years ago, Wyman proudly stated: “I have every annual since 1936, except for 1940 and 1941. If anyone’s got a copy I’d love them to get in touch.” 

He continued to explain that he was also quite the merch hoarder: “I have the books, the dolls and the yellow check scarf, although I never wear it because it’s terribly scratchy.” Wyman is also a proud member of the Official Rupert Bear Society and is often seen sporting his Rupert Bear badge on his lapel.

I think people can take a lot from Wyman’s pride in his obscure obsession. Too many people hide behind a wall of their own creation, believing that if their kooky habits were revealed to the public they would be ostracised for showing a crucial aspect of their personality. The important message we can take from Wyman’s example is to just be our kooky selves and those who stick around will be the ones worth holding on to anyway. 

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