The past week has vanished in a blur of sorting, clearing, dumping, washing (because I’ll be damned if I’m transporting dust from one house to another) and packing. Things that aren’t used every day have already started to make their newspaper-wrapped way into boxes. The cats think I’m mad, not to mention tardy in noticing their needs. Anyway, during the course of all these activities, some new essential life lessons have been bourne with heavy realisation upon me, and I share them with you all now. You may thank me later.
1. Do not cut out and save newspaper articles because you’ll want to ‘read them again’. You will never read them again, and when you come to move, they will clog up your recycling bin, forcing you to stand on it to get any more in. If you’re lucky enough to never move, they will be what form the tunnels in your house and will one day collapse in on you as you crawl your way to the bathroom.
2. Books. Yes, a delicate subject but let us tackle it any way. That pristine Folio edition of the Greek Myths that’s been on your shelf for 15 years? The interestingly battered copy of The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir? The think-they’re-trendy, ennuing-themselves-in-a-corner Will Selfs, DBC Pierres, Geoff Dyers and Martin Amises? None Of These Will You Read. Ever. Let them go gently into the charity shop where someone else can sit them on shelves to gather dust. Be brave. Should you ever really feel the need to read Lionel Asbo, it will be available at the library. But I’m guessing you won’t.
3. You do not need to save every ice cream tub or takeaway carton that crosses your path. There are not enough left-overs in your world of kitchens to need that many, and they will join the serried ranks of newspaper clippings to form the tunnels in your old age.
4. Ditto empty glass jam jars. You may say that you’re going to make jam; you may even have made jam, once, 13 years ago; but you’re not really ever going to attempt it again. The jam jars are physical manifestations of the earth mother you thought you might be until you discovered it requires patience, wisdom and possibly a trust fund. So let them go. See also 1 and 3.
5. The next time someone offers you a piece of kitchen equipment/pair of curtains/set of cushions/insert own collection of relative’s rejects, think VERY hard about whether you need them or not. And then say no. Politely but firmly. And then less politely when the message doesn’t get through. You may feel guilty but you’re the one going to have to pack up the accursed things when it comes time to move, not the newly-unencumbered relative.
6. Those curtains you thought you’d take up? The cushions you were going to recover? The pictures you were going to re-frame? The frames you were going to paint and then fill? Did you do any of it? No, I thought not. Let them go now.
7. Sort your photos as soon as you’ve printed them. Seriously people, for the love of all things photographic, think before you press the shutter button. Nobody needs ALL the photos they ever took of their childhood cat, the endless scenic shots, the images of meals (the food, not even the people you ate with!) – pick one or two of the best and ditch the rest. Oh, and write on the back the date, people and place, otherwise it all becomes meaningless, and that’s not just the curator in me speaking. Consider also birthday cards and invitations.
8. Buy polyfilla. Lots. Those picture hooks leave strangely big holes in the walls when they’re pulled out.
9. Make sure you’re moving at a time when there are friends and relations about to help. Not, to use a totally random example, at Easter when every fecker is away and you’re viewing their holiday photos on Facebook from the gritty, dusty bottomless pit of your own why-won’t-the-chair-fit-in-the-car despair. That would be some seriously bad timing.
Somewhere in there is my dog.