It’s what I brought home from my mother’s house. Vast quantities of assorted junk. There is so much of it that I have been going through the boxes sporadically and resting in between, or doing other things or going through my own rubbish.
When I first began I was under the impression that it was all fabulous valuable antiques. I had been brought up on the dictum that upon the demise of my father a famous London auction establishment should be alerted and would momentarily be on the doorstep like pointer dogs with their noses through the letterbox and their hands on their mobiles to monied collectors globally, who, alerted, would be rummaging frantically down the sides of their sofas for handfuls of spare banknotes.
All of my life I had been brought up to scorn the opinion of my mother’s eldest sister, the one who will be 102 any day now, that it was all second hand. To annunciate correctly it is necessary to say that, with a particular sneer, as you snap your rubber gloves at the wrist and prepare to scrub the surface of something brand new, wrought from nice clean plastic in a factory. Metal is also acceptable, providing it is shiny, and lace, if starched. Her opinion was also that her little sister would not have stood a chance if she, the sister had met the man the little sister married first and that once she had him in her clutches he would swiftly be re-educated, persuaded to stop collecting and disabused of his strange notions that anything eighteenth century was preferable to anything Victorian or newer.
My aunt was wrong on several counts. My father assured my mother he would not have looked twice at her sister. There is no possibility that he would have given up collecting antiques; my mother tried hard to dissuade him for 65 years and failed utterly, he was still smuggling paper bags full of old things into the house the week before he died and, judging by the piles of books that now adorn my bedroom floor, lived most of his life, in his head, in the eighteenth century.
My aunt, however, was right on one issue, it is by and large second hand junk, mostly old, fairly grubby, failing notably to sell at provincial auctions at knock-down prices and the famous London auction establishment wouldn’t touch the slightest bit of hand sawn veneer of any of it with a late nineteenth century pole au barge, ormolu mounts and ostrich leather hand tooled handle wearing gloves, even.
Which is why vast quantities of it have landed in my house, after all the stuff the charity shops will take has been taken. So when the kitchen drawer bottom fell out, dumping everything on the floor, what it was dumping was stuff not even good enough for a charity shop to take for free. In the drawer already was all the usual junk. The cutlery, the instructions for all the lights, including the ones replaced twenty years ago, kitchen gizmos, many of dubious use even when new, and the bright red building society passbook, containing the Christmas savings, which I put in a safe place immediately so as not to lose it.
24 hours later I now have old shoeboxes full of stuff that is going to the dump tomorrow just as soon as I have been through it all for the fifth time to make sure the passbook is not going to the dump too. Of course it won’t be. It is in a safe place. Or alternate reality, or elsewhere.
Yes I have looked there, thank you for suggesting it. Yes I have done my sock drawer in case. Twice. Yes the desk. I no longer have your email address spider scribbled in pencil on the bottom of a tiny shopping receipt in case it could be mistaken for a red passbook.
Yes I have stood in the kitchen doing the mime. The drawer falls out smash I pick it up lift I collect a bajillion odd knives, blades to the hand ouch I place the box full of gadgets on the counter top put I rescue the passbook from the floor and I……….
According the the mime I spin in circles cursing myself, though I don’t remember doing that so much at the time.
I had to stop half an hour ago and have something to eat as I was going all dizzy.
It doesn’t help that when the bottom fell out of the drawer I was engaged in sorting the ancient photos chucked in a box and putting them in an album and that I have photos everywhere in piles which are now spread even further in ransacked piles. Great Uncle Percy does not look anything like a red passbook, nevertheless I have stared at him three times now in the vain hope that he might morph into one, because you never know.
I certainly don’t. But I am not a quitter, you’ll know that if you’ve been reading a while. I have found things I didn’t know I had, such as a dead mouse someone furry was saving for later, some really big paperclips, two red liquorice pinwheels and such a lot of candles. I have no idea why the candles which have not been lit in living memory – we have electricity. I put them back in the drawer because I do now have my grandmother’s candlestick, though I have no intention of putting a candle in and lighting it, the house is full of heaps of incendiary junk. Not random junk either, sorted junk, some of it sorted up to six times.
I am going to go through the cupboard which is one entire half height wall of the kitchen before bed. I am.
I thought when I brought cars full of junk home repeatedly that it would take me months or years to go through it all. It’s amazing how quickly your opinion can change. I thought I would always have to spend time searching through the junk to find what I need whereas I now have the most indexed sock drawer in the land, I can co-ordinate with any trouser leg I have ever possessed at a moment’s notice. Go on, mention a colour. See?? And that, and that one for contrast and look! Stripes!
I must stop acquiring stuff. I really must. Sometimes I deliberately go to shops and buy things. This has got to stop. I must stop paddling up the Amazon immediately and if anyone wants a house clearing they can jolly well do it themselves.
I am off to tackle the kitchen cupboard. Oh why did I bring all those plates back from my mother’s when we already had plates? What fool has seven egg cups?* Why save a small 1920s cut glass sauce boat when I have never knowingly made sauce in my life, except cheese sauce all poured on a cauliflower and eaten at once, boatlessly. I have three rolling pins, am I crazy?+
It’s vast quantities of assorted junk, and, somewhere, a passbook, and also two cats, a dead mouse, one really old hard red liquorice pinwheel and a drawer full of socks sorted by colour, pattern, length and age. Actually I am throwing the mouse out now. There, gone. Got to start somewhere. Oh what idiot lives in an open plan house and fills it full of junk?%
And five dolls house kits, which are, of course, not junk but valuable pieces of wooded happiness that will be constructed just as soon as I have finished wading through the junk.
And found the passbook.
* Me. +Yes % Me again, I’m afraid.