Thursday, 26 January 2012

Hoarder! Hoarder!

In the course of my life I've had six house moves. This averages out to a move about every nine years. Most of them happened when I was quite young, so I didn't get fully involved in the trauma that is The House Move. But my most recent one was just under three years ago, when I upped sticks from London to the comparative peace of East Sussex. And I discovered that a move gives you the opportunity to go through your possessions and, hopefully, have something of a clearout, so that you start life in your new house with rather less clutter. What a pity I failed to use the opportunity. As a consequence, I am now, three years later, still making weekly trips to the charity shops and the Council tip, getting rid of the stuff that, had I disposed of it earlier, would have saved me a good few pounds by enabling me to hire a smaller removal van.

But I do struggle to give things up. Ask Mrs H and she'll quite happily tell you. I have more books than you can shake a stick at. I have a shed full of odds and ends that I've been collecting for years, in the belief that they might one day 'come in handy'. And drawers full of fossils, miscellaneous pebbles picked up from beaches, old pens, bits of electrical equipment and beer mats that I can't bear to throw away. The declutter experts advocate getting rid of something if you haven't used it for a given period - six months, for example - but I find it nigh on impossible to ditch things that I haven't used for half a lifetime. Or more. I have tried to declutter; heaven knows I've tried; but I invariably get stuck after the first item. And that first item is usually a bus ticket or a till receipt.

So, I'm a rubbish declutter-er. But just lately I've begun to wonder whether I shouldn't have hung on to all of it. For in the North Laine area of Brighton there is a large emporium called Snooper's Paradise, wherein a positive gallimaufry of antiques, curios and collectibles are for sale. Walking round Snooper's Paradise is like taking a stroll through your life. A bit like a near-death experience, only in slow motion. I was in said emporium a couple of weeks ago, and saw a good many items from my past. I used to store my fossils and sea shells in old Havana cigar boxes; the shop had them for six pounds each. My father cleverly rigged up an internal telephone system in my bedroom so my mother could phone me when dinner was on the table. Those same telephones, long since gone to landfill, are now worth around £100. And old bits of military clothing which I picked up for pennies at jumble sales in the sixties when such things were in favour (blame the Sergeant Pepper album) now cost as much as a new suit.

So, dear reader, I've come to a decision. I shall call a halt to any kind of de-cluttering. I wil start to fill my house with piles of newspapers, empty bottles and cans, and my garden with redundant bits of furniture. And I shall retain every book, CD, electronic gadget, empty takeaway carton and any other object that passes my way, on the off-chance that it may, at some point in the distant future, be worth a few bob. OK; if you visit me you might have to wipe your feet when you leave the house; but on the plus side, I think I'll soon have my very own documentary series on TV.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year?

I may be mistaken, but it seems only twelve months ago that it was last a new year. And the older I get, the more I wonder what there is to celebrate about a new year, which is, after all, just a simple change from the end of one month to the start of another. Apparently, around two million turned out to watch the fireworks in Sydney, Australia, whilst a rather more select 250,000 attended the London pyrotechnics. I, as always, watched from the comfort of my living room. With a cup of tea and a biscuit.

What is it about the turn of the year that obsesses us, both individually and collectively? TV stations and the printed news media give us their Reviews of the Year, often focusing on a list of those luminaries who died. Magazines tell us how to be A New You, offering tips on resolutions, diets, giving up smoking and the like. All of which beg the question...if you want to turn your life around, why wait for some arbitrary date to do it? If it's October and you're thinking of packing up smoking, why wait until January? If for no other reason, it'd save you a bit of money. If you have a twenty-a-day habit, stopping smoking in October could see you saving around five hundred pounds.

I've decided that, if I do have to celebrate the new year, I'm going to do it on the 25th of March. At the risk of being a bore, I've previously mentioned that, until 1751, the new year started on that date, otherwise known as Lady Day. Falling as it does exactly nine months before Christmas Day, it's the day when the Archangel Gabriel is said to have informed the Virgin Mary that she was to bear Jesus. And this year (or next year, to be pedantic), it falls on the Sunday when the clock is advanced by one hour, giving us 12 hours, 30 minutes and 53 seconds of daylight during which to celebrate. Contrast this with the measly 8 hours, 1 minute and 47 seconds vouchsafed to us on the first of January.

Dare to be different. This March the 25th, wish all your friends and neighbours a Happy New Year. And rather than giving something up, take something up. Clear your clutter. Construct model aircraft from kits. Learn Anglo Saxon. Or even start morris dancing...