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The Passing of a Banal Comrade: Hamish 'Hamish' Smythe

A little background on Hamish ‘Hamish’ Smyth, as we tepidly mourn the loss of a dull man who failed to achieve legendary status. Hamish was found by his mildly devoted wife yesterday morning. “Oh well,” she said, “I guess I won’t be needing to bring him any more cups of coffee.”

A rare photograph of Smyth, recently confirmed authentic by go-fund-me (beta-version) facial recognition software.

It was six days after the passing of Hamish before his wife realised he’d gone. "He didn’t talk all much and moved even less, so it was difficult to tell," she said. "In fact, being dead probably won’t make all that much difference to him."

From the European NSC Club, following on from yesterdays uninspired statement:

“Hamish lived a somewhat interesting life and yet to his credit, he remained a bore until the very end. Meeting him in person was tedious. He had the venerable knack of making even the most astounding happenings appear lame.”

Hamish will be cremated in the coming days. There will be no memorial service, as per his instructions. He leaves behind numerous daughters, grandchildren, a goldfish and an exhausted wife.

His Anti-Climatic Escape

Hamish was living in Berlin in the early sixties when the wall went up and the city was divided.

He planed his escape across the divide for some years, with many elaborate attempts ending in failure. Finally he came up with a brilliant plan; he’d simply walk across.

50km Olympic Walk 1960. An event Hamish may not have competed in.

Hamish was an excellent walker. He had in fact competed in the fifty kilometer walk at the 1960 Rome Olympics…or at least he had been entered in the event. There is some contention over whether he participated or remained in the team villa eating pizza. It was Hamish's walking coach who had unwittingly sparked his interest in deliberately not doing things. The coach pulled Hamish up on the track to sternly inform Hamish that, ”The best walkers don’t run!”

Being an accomplished non-runner, Hamish resolved to not run across the border that separated Berlin.

He befriended a soldier stationed on the wall and bet him a hundred Deutschmarks that he’d walk to the other side if let though.

Thinking it easy money, and that Hamish would take only one step before coming to his senses and retreating, the gaud unlocked an iron gate and let him go—Hamish didn’t turn back. Thus he became one of only a handful of defectors to flee to the East.

East German Watch Tower, from which no shots were fired at Hamish.

The East German guards in their watch-tower looked on baffled as he walked calmly towards them. They drew their guns and took aim when Hamish paused mid-way to pick a large boogie out of his left nostril that had been bothering him since breakfast. But Hamish made it across without a single shot being fired. “I dodged no bullets that day,” he said.

The cell in which Hamish was held. He claimed the time spent here was happiest period of his life.

Questioned by the Stasi, that most feared East German interrogation squad, Hamish remained nonchalant and disinterested in their line of questioning. He was held some days on the suspicions of being a spy. Still, being something of a curiosity for his escape from the West, Hamish was treated well and not beaten repeatedly. "I had to get away," Hamish explained. "Too many Stamps in the West. All different sizes and colours. Everyone seems to be collecting the damn things and I couldn’t stand it any longer!" The Stasi soon grew tired of his apathetic attitude towards their threats. The apprentice Interrogators were greatly releived when their superiors decided to let Hamish go.


Hamish refused to leave his cell on release. He claimed he was comfortable there and liked the furnishings. He very much looked forward to his daily ration of watery soup and stale bread. He thought the view out the window across to an adjacent brick wall was most endearing and the overall setting was most conducive for not collecting stamps. To the apprentice interrogators dismay, Hamish was permitted to remain in his cell so long as he worked in the Stasi typing pool. "We had to copy highly sensitive documents which were filed in huge storeroom," Hamish explained. "Real top-secret stuff. Surveillance records, spy documents, Interrogation transcripts and so on. It was so secretive we weren’t allowed to see any of the documents. We had to wear masks, so we never knew what we were typing. Throughout these early years in East Germany, Hamish avoided collecting Stamps through social isolation. He had no interested in altering his approach to non collecting at this time. But the Stasi eventually grew tried of Hamish living on their premises and he was forced to find his own accommodation. He then began experimenting with fringe non collecting techniques.

Secretive East German typing pool

Thought his life, Hamish was employed in various governmental posts. He was found to be particularly adept at paper shredding. At the time, East German paper shredders were notoriously unreliable so Hamish performed much of the work by hand. He rose to the ranks of Deputy Chief Paper Shredder within the East German Communist Party and was even assigned to Dresden, in the late 80s, to assist with KGB file shredding, under the tutorage of Vladimir Putin.

Non Stamp Collecting

Outwardly Hamish was resonably conventional in his early approach to Non Stamp Collecting; he simply removed himself from anything to do with collecting stamps. In recent years however, scholars have suggested Hamish was a radical from the start. It's argued Hamish took avoiding collecting to the extreme through what was in effect voluntary imprisonment. Following expulsion from his Stasi cell, Hamish began to his question his early approach to non collecting. He went through a difficult period of self-doubt and went so far as to going an underground non collecting societies that practised a particularly dangerous form of Tibetan non collecting. Hamish emerged from his little talked about experimental non collecting phase to become an early advocate of the 'aggressive/passive' technique of non collecting. His methodology is quite complex, but in essence, it centres around vigorously searching out stamp collecting clubs to deliberately ignore them. Hamish detailed his technique in his not so popular book, Contemporary Stamp Indifference. This work introduced the Smythe Index Spectrum of Indifference (SISI) to the world, but few people took any notice. SISI and the associated theorem did gain something of an underground following in the Eastern Block during the latter days of communism, but it quickly fell by the wayside after the wall was torn down and materialism took hold. There was a great deal of apathy toward indifference when people found themselves suddenly free to consume and in want of Big Macs and Levi Jeans.

Fast forward a few decades and indifference just isn’t PC anymor. This is so despite the lack of campaigning Smyth engaged in during his later years, in an effort to promote indifference and his SISI theorem.

The Humboldt University of Berlin, where Smyth’s SISI Theorem has never been taught.

The non collecting style favoured by Hamish was considered highly controversial among non collecting traditionalists. Hamish was widely criticize for being too cutting-edge. After a number of tepid arguments, Hamish parted ways with European Non Stamp Collecting Club in the early seventies. He went on to found The European Non Stampist Movement. Hamish awarded himself lifetime membership of this organization and promptly voted unanimously to prevented anyone else from joining. This decree came as something of a slap in the face to the handful of supporters Hamish had amassed over the years. Yet, he remained staunchly apathetic towards his followers and fans. Hamish followed up Contemporary Stamp Indifference with, The Chilling Fields - My Non Stamp War. This unpublished manuscript predominantly consists of extracts from his former book. "It was less work writing it that way" Hamish said. The additional material in his second work focuses on his mundane experiences as a struggling Non Stamp Collector during the Cold War. Although something of a Luddite, after years of struggle with soviet typewriters and paper shredders, Hamish discovered modern world processing programs and soon became enamoured with the Copy and Paste function. He is rumoured to have completed an updated version of Contemporary Stamp Indifference, also called Contemporary Stamp Indifference. The latter work is thought to be based on the, The Chilling Fields. However, this manuscript is yet to be found among his assortment of blank memory sticks, and it may not exist at all.

Non Photography

In addition to his disinterest in stamp collecting, Hamish was actively disinterested in photography, he even held various posts in the Anti-Photography Establishment, APE. On several occasions, Hamish tried to vote out all members of APE, including himself. His attempted coups typically ended in failure - a disappointment which he claimed to be of little consequence. Following his death, Hamish's wife revealed how he'd spent an increasing amount time, staring blankly out the window whilst working on a photography book without photos. He was apparently finalising it’s format in his mind before taking it to a publisher. His wife expressed her hopes it may be published posthumously.

Final Years

Sindelfingen Stamp Fair 2019. One of the last (former Eastern Block) Stamp Collecting Events Hamish failed to attend.

Hamish spent the latter years of his life avoiding Stamp Collecting Clubs. When not absorbed in this pursuit, he worked on tracking down border guard with whom he’d made a hundred Deutschmarks, plus interest, bet years before. Hamish said it wasn’t the principle that counted, he simply needed the money. Following the unification of Germany, Hamish found employment with the new government, piecing together the very same documents he’d shredded for the former government. Six hundred million pieces of shredded paper were left behind in warehouses full of sacks after the fall of communism. It was Hamish’s job to tape them back together again. "It’s like looking for the right thread of paper among millions of other shreds of paper," Hamish said. He enjoyed the work and often volunteered for unpaid overtime to avoid collecting. Hamish was a modest man. He said much of his early success in Non Stamp Collecting was down to voluntarily living under Communist rule in Eastern Europe. Still, it is doubtful if anyone else in the history of non collecting went to such lengths as he to hinder their ability to collect.

He won’t be missed all that much.


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