When a vintage ABBA collection met its Waterloo
I had the lot. Full set of official ABBA magazines, every annual, tour programmes from 1977, 1979 and 1980 tours. Books, cuttings, records, autographs, ABBA perfume, soap, dolls, mugs, scarfs, cards, badges, necklace, t-shirts. You name it. If it was available in the 1970s, I quite possibly had one.
Unable to part with the delicious memories and the nagging suspicion that some of it was possibly worth its weight in ABBA gold, the entire shebang had all been lugged from Britain to Sweden in an old leather suitcase and several packing boxes. It commanded a considerable amount of space, so when we invested in a storage facility outside the home, my ABBA collection was once again loaded into the back of a SUV and stored under towers of packing boxes, assuming no self-respecting thief would waste time or energy on lifting down numerous heavy boxes of books to check what was at the bottom.
What I hadn’t anticipated, however, was that the collection would come under attack from below.
We were abroad on holiday when we received a call from the storage facility to say torrential rain had flooded the building. My heart stopped. The Collection was important, it represented my teen years: sticking posters on every conceivable bedroom surface, using school lunch money for more memorabilia, skipping school to see ABBA The Movie, surviving the crush at the Wembley concerts, summers in Stockholm, meeting new ABBA fan friends, meeting ABBA. This was why I had kept it all, could never have sold it. It meant too much.
By the time we reached the storage building, the leather suitcase was soaked through and the packing boxes were disintegrating. I numbly assessed the damage and separated the survivors from the sodden, the stench of wet paper overwhelming. Everything in the top half of the boxes had survived, but virtually everything in the bottom half was stuck together. Ruined.
I was quite possibly too shocked to cry as we repacked the dry stuff into fresh boxes and brought the wet items home to dry out. But to no avail. Many books and magazines were so wet, they simply ripped or fragmented when I gently tried to prise pages apart. After a few failed attempts, I took a chance and left the rest simply to dry out. They turned into solid cardboard. By the third day, the whole house was beginning to smell mouldy. I bit the bullet and threw the lot out.
And this is where the process became interesting. It suddenly didn’t matter anymore.
At worst, I’d lost the monetary value of owning complete collections of ABBA magazines, annuals etc. Some items were no longer in mint condition. But once over the shock, letting go was relatively easy. My family and home were unharmed. My future was not impacted. My past was still intact.
Which just goes to prove, that true value really does lie in our memory banks and not in our tangible assets.
I realised that I wouldn’t swap my memories for all the memorabilia in China.