Marmite Musings


There are a few categories of collecting that will always have a love it or hate it reaction and taxidermy is one of them. Even the VE office is divided, but I’ll not let on who’s for it or who’s against it here.

Me? Well I have a deep rooted fascination for the natural world and wildlife in particular. And it must be ‘wild’. Not for me the man-made grotesques such as boxer dogs or hairless cats. No, these freaks represent how we always manage one way or another to screw up the wonderful, natural, unspoiled world. I love close contact with wild animals and learning about them. I have done so all my life. And not being the wealthiest man on the planet I spend a massive percentage of my income travelling to the best zoos in the world where I can see in a day, or a weekend, or a fortnight, hundreds of different wild animals for the price of a return flight and a hotel. 

Although I’d love to trek into the shrinking rain forest or bump a four by four across the (also shrinking) open grasslands I’ve never thought this would bring me the close contact with lots of wild animals I crave, and apart from the fact that I would undoubtedly be spoiling the very thing I love by just being there, I might not actually see anything at all, and at great cost. So no wildlife safaris for me.

So what has all this got to do with taxidermy? Well let me explain; just like many of you I’m a collector, if I could I’d have my own living zoo but that possibility will never come to fruition and once again, the cost would be prohibitive. Not to mention the overbearing responsibility. So what does a collector who is fascinated by wild animals but can’t actually collect the wonderful living things do? Yes, you’ve got it, he collects wonderful dead things. They don’t need feeding or cleaning out, there are no vet’s bills and this collector can still take off around the world looking at those awe inspiring living creations without worrying about who is looking after the creatures at home.

But hang on a minute, taxidermy is expensive too isn’t it? Well yes. So it’s a great shame that my passion isn’t for collecting thimbles or matchboxes or the like. However, there is a solution to that problem too. I buy wonderful things, marvel at them, enjoy them, learn about them, and then, alas… I sell them. To you maybe, if like me, you are a big fan of Marmite.

Alan Ashby