The Bonkers House is feeling nervous. It is being decluttered. Drastically.
Editing my book The Detox Plan for Kindle made me feel guilty, damn guilty. I know all this stuff but do I follow my own advice? Hell no.
Truly, it’s nigh-on impossible to get any clarity in your head, in your life, if you’re surrounded by stuff. And hell, do I need some clarity. So the stuff has to go.
My mother was supreme at this. In fact, when she died, there was barely anything left to clear. She had pared her life down to a suitcase of clothes and one bookcase of beloved books. A few pictures, a journal, her photo albums. A dog.
Anyhow. It’s spring. The time for clearing and cleansing – and decluttering. So I started blitzing. Eight bags of books. Five bags of clothes. One box of DVDs/CDs. Two boxes of assorted detritus. So far…
If you’re gonna declutter you have to do it fast and furious, I reckon. Sling on some loud music, grab a pile of bin bags and just get ruthless. It’s fatal to pick things up and look at them too long. Don’t even go near the memories of where you bought, who gave, when given. Nooooo. Just fling ‘em in the bags and let go.
Do you use a holding area, asked someone on Twitter. Hell no! Holding areas are strictly forbidden, the devil’s spawn. They offer the promise of the second chance, of return, of reprieve. Get the stuff out the house quick, before remorse or doubt sets in. Well, that’s the theory. My fly in the ointment is Adrian.
Adrian is a dragon. No, not just cos of the Welsh bit or the fiery chilli and garlic breath. He hoards. For pity’s sake he wears socks that are more hole than sock. Pants that are shredded, and no, not in a funky way. He is a mild man on the whole, but when it comes to books, he turns nasty, positively gladiatorial.
‘What have you been doing while I’ve been away?’ he asked suspiciously on his return from Belgium last week. I frowned, wondering if he’d picked up on the covert exorcism. But no. He peered over my shoulder and pointed accusingly.
‘You’re getting rid of books again, aren’t you?’
‘Only mine,’ I said defensively but he darted past me and pulled them all out, looking pained, making small piles which then turned into larger piles. Ones he ‘might’ read. Ones that ‘shouldn’t be got rid of’. Ones which were, he insisted, his in the first place.
Sigh. I don’t see the point. Yes, I keep reference books; I keep books I need for work but novels? Only those I’ll absolutely read again. And those with huge sentimental value (and, actually, less of those all the time). I used to read four or five books a week. Keep them all? Impossible. The house is already rammed to the gills with thousands of the beasts. Something has to give. In feng shui they say that you should always leave space on your bookshelves – to allow new knowledge to come in.
Ditto clothes. What’s the point of hanging onto stuff you never wear? Honestly, even if you do fit back into it at some point, it won’t be in fashion anymore. They’re sneaky, those fashion people, the styling is always slightly different; the cut tighter or the sleeve wider. I’ve got a couple of jackets from the 80s which are gorgeous - one is an Elaine Challoner with the funkiest buttons, and the other I had made by Idol and it’s plain fabulous. But I tried them on the other day and, seriously, they made me look like something from Dallas. Hell, those shoulder-pads!
Since losing weight, the vast majority of my wardrobe hangs on me and, last time I looked, Irish potato famine chic ain’t coming round again. I know I should do eBay but really, I haven’t got the nous or the energy. So off it goes to the charity shop.
James is like me. He doesn’t hoard. But he does have a canny eye for making money.
‘You’re missing a trick, Mum,’ he said, eyeing up the ever increasing pile of boxes and bags.
‘Sure. They’re doing a table-top sale next month. You and I could make us some money.’
Given he regularly manages to sell enough stuff to fund his gaming habit, I listened.
‘Look. Sellotape it up so Dad can’t get to it and put it in the utility room. We’ll split the proceeds. I can get my video recording stuff and you can get a DVD player.’
‘I don’t need a DVD player. If I want to watch something, I can use your Xbox.’
He snarled. ‘Just do it, Mum.’
So, against my better nature, I have a holding area. Just for now.
How about you? Hoard or let go?