16th October 2020

Culture / Featured / Charlie Gladstone

Charles Gladstone: My Life in One Object

23 5 mins 0

MMy Life in One Object is a new series where we look into our favourite things, the objects of our past -or present- that tell stories. These are tangible memories, a tale of the maker or of the moment in time.

This is a story about the profound importance of things. It’s about the addictive passion of collecting. And it’s about the resonance of certain objects and how their meaning can live deep inside us for decades, sometimes completely unnoticed.

I see beauty and depth in products everywhere; Japanese jackets, records, photographs, ceramics, axes, books, socks, matchboxes, oil paintings, prints, knives. And I want that beauty and integrity in my life. You name it, I probably collect it.

Charles Gladstone

I am a maximalist, a collector, a consumer. I’ve long been interested in how and where things are made (fifteen years ago we were publishing catalogues of things that were solely made in Britain). You know that thing that people say, ‘buy less but better’? Well, for me it’s ‘buy more but better’. I see beauty and depth in products everywhere; Japanese jackets, records, photographs, ceramics, axes, books, socks, matchboxes, oil paintings, prints, knives. And I want that beauty and integrity in my life. You name it, I probably collect it.

Of all of my collections, the one that I love most, that defines me most articulately, that I have worked on for the longest and with the most passion is my collection of records. I have lots -maybe 20 000, I don’t know- of records, CDs and cassettes.

And these have provenance in spades; not the vinyl itself necessarily but the love and inspiration and graft that goes into each note of every song. Blood, tears, genius and originality are writ large here (of course, amongst the many gems in my collection there’s a fair bit of crap too, but we’ll ignore that for now). What you’ll find if you flick through my records are endless examples of perfect guitar music, pops songs, reggae, classic soul, punk, new wave and lots more besides.

I’m often asked what my favourite record ever is; what sits at the core of my collection as the defining piece? My most common answer is probably The Smiths’ The Queen is Dead, which is widely regarded as one of the best records ever made and a simple choice because it captures one of our greatest bands at their peak and I know it inside out and love it with a passion.

But recently I was alphabetizing a chunk of my records in Scotland and I came across my collection of albums by The Jam. The Jam was the first guitar band that spoke to me. I was 14 when I first came across them and although they were less cool than The Clash or The Sex Pistols, I preferred them. From that first discovery I was hooked, I pursued them with the fervour of the truly interested, reading every snippet in NME, waiting by the radio on Sunday night in the hope (often realized) that they would be number 1, pressing play and record simultaneously on my cassette player when they appeared on Top of the Pops, wearing CND badges because Paul Weller did, even though I didn’t really know what it was. I even saw them play a few times and it was magic.

But, to the point; this piece is about ‘one object’ and I am going to nominate an album by The Jam called The Gift. It was their final album and it definitely wasn’t their best. With the benefit of hindsight, the cover is ridiculous; all three members are individually running in amber, red or green backgrounds (I suspect ‘running on the spot’ to mimic the lyrics of one of the album’s pivotal songs).

I held it a couple of months ago and I felt close to tears; something inside me reacted powerfully to that object.

Charles Gladstone

When I came across this album recently it had a profound impact on me. I felt something visceral and beautiful; I felt the anxiety, excitement, anticipation, passion and commitment of buying it the day it came out. That day it was wrapped in a purple and white striped bag, a sort of big version of a traditional sweet bag and it felt absolutely perfect. I held it a couple of months ago and I felt close to tears; something inside me reacted powerfully to that object. It’s nearly 40 years old but those intense emotions of my teenage years are deep inside it. In that way this record, this object and its ability to summon up such deep and rich emotions makes it my favourite thing because to understand its power is to understand why those of us that collect simply can’t help ourselves and, of course, why objects matter.

Clap for appreciation

Share   |  
Twitter   Facebook   Copy link
Charlie Gladstone
InstagramTwitterWebsite

Charlie Gladstone and his wife Caroline, are the founders of The Good Life Society (The Good Life Experience, Camp Glen Dye, Camp Hawarden and Some Good Ideas), Pedlars, Hawarden Estate Farm Shops, Glen Dye Cabins & Cottages, The Glynne Arms and more. Throughout all their businesses, Charlie champions integrity and sustainability.

ProfileSee All

Connect with us
Youtube
Instagram
Spotify
Linkedin

Our Network