I have this mad urge to throw everything in the bin, to wreck the house and strip it bare. To be completely naked and just start from scratch. Wouldn’t that be amazing. Wouldn’t it be just brilliant to walk into a room where everything is clean and fresh and new. No clutter, no rubbish, no awkward unsightly stuff.
I could do it, I’ve done it before but I have one teeny, weeny problem, actually it’s not that teeny, it’s 6ft 4, and weighs in at 15 ½ stone, or there about. It’s called Mark. He’s a hoarder as was his mother and do you know something it’s contagious.
I was brought up in a minimalistic house. No, not one of those pristine white walled space capsules that you see in the magazines with the single vase on a floating shelf, I mean it was a house whereby in June and December we were expected to sort out our “stuff” and throw away anything that we never used. It was like living in a Native American tribe, only without the spiritualism. Twice a year we had the clear out. Dump it, Use it, Donate it. It was as though we were always travelling light. Ready at a minute’s notice to pack up and move to our next camp site. We never did move, but we could have done so at a moment’s notice and everything would have been ready to pack. Just like a migrating tribe, no use for extra’s we could not carry.
I’m doing it, I’m clearing, I’m getting rid of the extra’s. It’s not easy, it seems as though I have lived here for centuries, not a couple of years. There are things here I never knew I had, there are things here that sit looking like tomb stones and memorabilia to a bygone age. Not that they look good or have a use, they are tat. I love the saying; one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure. Then let some other bugger have it, I’m sick of having buried treasure in the back of cupboards. Here’s the thing, when Mum died I was left with the task of house clearing. It was horrible. I had sent Mark ahead of me to clear out what he wanted to keep and he did so. He bought back stuff! Then when I cleared I was given instructions, keep that, that, that, that and yes keep that. I now have more stuff.
It’s the hoarding you see, I can’t stand it. I have stuff, useful stuff. Stuff I use every day, but the problem is that because we have stuff that is of no use and doesn’t come out of the dark recess of cupboards and draws I have no room to put the useful stuff and it gets left around on the tops of things and around things. If I put it away then I could never get it out. In fact, I can’t put anything away because the useless stuff is hoarded. The keep it, it will come in handy is all well and good, but what about the stuff that I use. We have, wait for it, a kick bag. When I was 21 I used to go to the gym and I used to kick and punch a bag just like it, trust me it was preferable to kicking the hell out of my boss at the time, and I was good at it. 40 years later neither of us are going to be contenders for the title of Senior Rocky.
Do you remember Mark’s new hobby? That’s right we have hundreds of pounds worth of bows and arrows sitting in the bottom of a cupboard. I hear the excuses and it has come out, once. It came out last month to impress an old friend that came to visit. We have furniture, who doesn’t. We have a desk, the one I’m sitting at right now, sitting being a loose
description of the way I have to place myself. The chair is new, it’s a cheap one, but oh so comfortable, but the desk is out of the ark. Yes, it’s made of real wood but it is built for looking at not for practicality. It has draws, lots of them but I can’t put my legs under it. Then there is the bureau, it was Mark’s grandads, totally impractical, in the way and erggggggg, are you getting the picture.
I’m not innocent in all of this, but I’m a hoarder of a different kind of stuff, stuff that doesn’t take up lots of room, I’m a hoarder of smelly stuff. That goes for everything from makeup and perfume to room fresheners and cleaning bits. I just have this thing about picking up bottles and sniffing.
You can often find me in the cleaning aisle at the supermarket picking up bottles and going, “OOO, that smells nice.”
I may have three bottles of shower cleaner already, but I don’t have ‘that’ one, so I need ‘that’ one, because it smells nice.
On my foray into the cupboard this morning I tripped over bottles of clothes detergent, I mean bottles of the stuff, three to be precise and two bottles of fabric conditioner. Why? Because they were on offer at the time.
OMG, I’m turning into Mark’s mother. It’s the house, it has a curse on it, a hoarding curse, I can just see the house now with arms, it’s hands rubbing together and saying things like, “keep it, keep it,” in a maniacal voice as the grin on its face stares down on me, I try to walk out of the house with a box for the charity shop. The sky darkens and the thunder cracks, the lightning streaks across the sky. A wind picks up and hurls me back towards the front door as I try to reach the gate.
“You will never defeat me,” I scream into the torrential rain that pounds down on me, “I am stronger than you, this stuff will never go back into the house, never, never. It will be gone, do you hear me, gone.”
The thunder rolls murderously as I reach out and touch the gate, I have to open it. I can see my car, and I have to get to it before it’s too late. The house laughs menacingly at me and I can feel it pulling me back towards it. The stuff rattles in the box, it is trying to escape, to get back to the cupboard under the stairs.
Sorry got carried away there. This clearing is a pretty traumatic stuff. Look, blues skies, is that a bluebird I see before me, the Sun shines down on me, “Ohmmmm,” calm down Jenny, it’s only a story. Can you see how badly this affects me though?
I thought I’d try some Fen Shooie. Balanced, with windows open, light music on and wearing my loosest clothing I set about the art of chuckymeouty. It’s all the rage you know, it is the combatant to buyiemeall. (Can you tell I know all the terminology of the modern spiritual stuff?)
I emptied my draws of all the smellies I have. My bed was covered. Now I have a tip for any one that intends to do this dejunking, be alone, be very alone, don’t do it when your partner is around. If Mark ever realised how much rubbish I had I would never be allowed to nag him to sort out the cupboards of wires and computer bit that float around everywhere.
As I took out the stuff I threw away the things I knew I never used any more, I also began a list, I love lists, a list of things that I thought I needed to buy. Do you see the irony?
Do I need six different moisturisers? Yes, I do, I’ll just go through them. I have my night time moisturiser, the one that keeps me youthful and looking darn good for my age, then I have the light one, for normal days, then the heavy day one for cold days, and the SPF501 for sunny days, and the lovely smelling one for bath nights and the one for after I’ve exfoliated. Then of course there are the exfoliators…
The Fen Kickarse spoke to me, “Hold it to your bosom and feel it, do you really need this in your life.” I tried it and suddenly found that I had a whole black bag of crap to dispose of and a list as long as my arm of those things I needed to buy. But do you know something, I threw the list in the bag as well.
The destruction of my home has begun, since the smelly clear out I have cleared out my office. Do you know how good it feels to walk through the door and be able to get to my desk by the window without tripping over the stuff I have put in there because I have nowhere else to put it and I keep telling myself it will come in useful? I have dejunked, books, and figurines, I hate ornaments, dust gather, crappy things, I have thrown out computers, three to be precise. Mark has a habit of saying he will fix them, or he needs bits out of them, or they will come in handy one day. I’ve stopped listening. If I threw it out he would never notice. He can’t even find the things he thinks he knows he has, so he won’t miss anything he’s forgotten about.
When it’s over it will be nice to put my bakeware in a cupboard, be able to get to the freezer without tripping over the hedge trimmer and the steamer that sits in the dining room because there is a punch bag and bows and arrows in the cupboard under the stairs and I will be able to walk around my house without falling over stuff, put things in draws without having to open six before I can find one without wires and screws in that haven’t been touched in three years and sit at the dining table because the things that don’t fit in the kitchen will have a new home in the space where I still have Marks mothers ancient crockery, that is “Too good to get rid of”, but I don’t use.
Wish me luck, I’m on a mission. I have found out that three houses into one that is half the size of the original two, does not go, so something has to give, and I promise you this much, it’s not going to be me!