In the flesh THE news that the Orders and Medals Society of America (OMSA) annual Convention due to be held in Orlando in August has been cancelled (see News and Views) should come as no surprise considering what’s happening in the world at the moment. Whilst we all fervently hope the pandemic will be but a bad memory come the height of summer it might not be and rather than risk leaving it any later and potentially incur large cancellation charges the OMSA convention committee decided to pull the plug now and concentrate instead on Milwaukee next year. This decision, though undoubtedly the right one for the organisation, will have come as a huge blow to many collectors stateside as it is usually their only opportunity to meet fellow medal enthusiasts “in the flesh”. Over here geography allows us to meet up with others who share our passion (or affliction depending on what mood you’re in) on a reasonably regular basis should we so desire. The cancellation of fairs over here at the moment is an utter pain but we all know that in terms of meeting people we only have to wait a few weeks, at the most a few months, before we’ll be able to see them again. Yes, we’ll miss seeing everybody at Stratford in June but we were there in March and know we’ll see them again in October, and although the OMRS Convention is also cancelled we know that we won’t have to wait a full year before we bump into the people who would have attended —we’ll see them in Aldershot, Yate, at Britannia, in Wakefield, or even at a coin show in York or Birmingham. In America that just isn’t possible. If you live in Seattle you can’t just pop to a fair in Pennsylvania on the off chance there might be something there for you; if you’re based in Chicago a trip to Houston isn’t just a few hours in a car, it’s a few hours on a plane with all that entails. So the next time the OMSA crowd meet the chances are it will be a good two years since many of them will have seen each other or interacted on a personal level with a fellow collector (and by that I mean “offline”, I fully appreciate how important the online world is, but it isn’t quite the same). Now those of you who don’t attend shows or medal clubs, and I know there are many of you, will be sitting there wondering just what all the fuss is about, wondering why it’s so important for some of us to just sit and chat about our hobby with those who don’t look at us as if we’re crazy. I’m afraid I can’t explain it, maybe I don’t understand it myself, after all, collecting is quite an insular pastime by its very nature, but for me, and for many of us, such interaction is important, hugely so and I know there will be many across the pond for whom the news of OMSA’s cancellation will be greeted with dismay. It certainly has been by us here, we were very much looking forward to Orlando this year and indeed have only missed one OMSA since we started going, back in 1998. It isn’t only the cancellation of OMSA that has hit us of course, we’ve been missing all the shows if we’re honest. Yes, there have been times in the past when we’ve looked at the calendar, seen that there was a show on every weekend in a month and groaned inwardly to ourselves—but we’ve gone ahead and done those shows anyway. Now, when we can’t get to any, we realise why; because for us at least they really are an important part of the hobby and, more than that, we actually enjoy them. In the UK we’re lucky, those of us who need to interact with likeminded collectors will get our chance later in the year (at least I hope we will!) but collectors in the US will have to wait that much longer before they get to meet up again—but when they do I hope they won’t turn their back on it. I know OMSA attendance has been dwindling in recent years as age and infirmity takes its toll on members but I fervently hope that the vast majority who are able to travel to Milwaukee next year will do so—I would like to think that it will come back next year stronger than ever. The same goes for the UK shows too—we have no idea when they will start again. Maybe we’ll be able to get to Outwood or Yate in August or maybe it won’t be until Stratford at the end of October—and when they do start up again will we be under any restrictions? Will we all be instructed to wear masks? Will only a handful of people be allowed in the room at any one time? Nobody knows of course, but one thing we do know: that this too shall pass. One day it will, one day we will be back to normal (or what passes for it amongst collectors) and I hope that when it does we will all look again at the shows—if this forced absence of fairs has taught me one thing it’s that I don’t much like the idea of never actually seeing another collector in the flesh again and don’t much relish a hobby where there aren’t any shows because they’ve all vanished. So when this is all over I shall very much look forward to seeing you all again and I also hope that all of you who visited fairs before all this will continue to do so and those of you who didn’t will consider going along for the first time. In the meantime, until we can all meet up again, stay safe, stay well.