I arrived home last night, parked and did what I believe is known as a double take.
The skip, that has been in the drive for the last few weeks, and which was far from full as we unclutter at the pace of a sleepy snail, had gone.
“What’s happened to the skip?” I asked Julia, who had arrived home slightly before me.
“Nothing, as far as I know.” she said. “Have people been putting things in?”
“Look for yourself.”
She ambled to the door muttering.
It was the heartrending yell of a woman who had been planning to fill a skip on Bank Holiday Monday. Skipless and bereft, she stood on the doorstep wailing and rending and doing whatever thwarted declutterers do…
She had, in case you haven’t guessed, been in a world of her own when she returned home, and had completely missed the fact that a large steel rubbish receptacle had disappeared from the drive.
And that is not the strangest thing.
The skip company, when we finally got hold of them, deny all knowledge of the skip being taken away, which means that we have clearly been the subject of a skip robbery.
It’s an unusual crime, as it’s hardly the same as slipping an unconsidered trifle into your pocket. You need a lorry with the correct lifting gear for one thing. So it’s either been stolen by a rival company, or we’ve hired it off a company staffed by incompetent idiots who have collected it at random. . Julia has been looking at the feedback on their site. Some of the feedback is slightly more forthright than my comments.
It is looking likely that we have hired a skip off a company of incompetent idiots.
Had a lie in this morning before dragging myself from bed, fighting with my trousers (second leg only, the first goes well most mornings). and eating breakfast.
Then I lost control of my day as Julia took over, sorting, decluttering, throwing away.
It’s not easy. We’ve just about filled the first skip and haven’t made much impression on the clutter mountain. I also had six bags of clothes in the back of the car, four bags of books and a bag of recycling.
However, when we left the house, the first job of the day was to buy replacement ear rings for Julia, who lost one yesterday. The books went to Age Concern, just along the road from the jeweller.
Then we went to a clean Salvation Army clothing bank. The local one is surrounded by rubbish and broken glass and we’ve stopped using it. After that we went to a supermarket car park with the paper recycling and did some shopping. Pasta bake again tonight.
After that it was Flu Vaccine for two and then home to tidy up.
We ran into some friends we hadn’t seen for a while when we were in the surgery – a sign of getting old I suppose. They are our age, but are grandparents now and have many more health conditions than we do. It sets things in perspective when you realise how ill some people are. When I’ve spoken to a man who takes 20 pills a day my five don’t seem too bad.
Julia is out at a meeting, as I write. She never stops.
I’m going to make tea in a minute.
It doesn’t seem much of a day. No visits, no scones, no bookshops. Pretty pointless really.
The featured picture is a fallen leaf – very haiku. It’s a reminder that I didn’t get my nature walk today.
At the beginning of the year I set myself a target of decluttering by stealth – throwing out an item of accumulated detritus each day (by dumping, giving away, recycling or any other means) and getting rid of a book a day. Little by little I hoped to make a noticeable difference without too much stress.
So, the January results are in, and how have I done?
Target: 31 books given away. Actual: Er…0
I haven’t done too well on the giving away of books. I think I’ll say that I’m confident I can move this along in the next month and bring it back on target.
Target: 31 items removed from the house. Actual: 6
I had a good ferret round through a load of old paperwork and threw out the envelopes and other bits I didn’t need to keep. It felt good to take charge of things, but the feeling soon faded.
I also sorted some bits of useless junk, which went in the bin.
It’s a start, though even I have to admit that it isn’t much of a start. February is going to be an interesting month.
The book picture is a random book picture because I mentioned books in the post. I’ve decided I need some pictures around the blog to brighten it up.
Just one trip to the other side of town to take Julia to work has given me more than enough subjects to fill a blog for a week.
One is obviously the morality of taking the car to work when we have a good bus service in Nottingham, and trams that run close to where she wants to be.
Two is the fact that she had four bags with her. Two contain things she is removing from the house. One is phone, sandwiches and such. The fourth is stationery and gym gear. Would she take four bags if she had to use the bus? Discuss.
Three – why do women need a bag to carry the things that go in my pockets? Even in summer I can manage, with a jacket in winter I have a pocket surplus.
Four – decluttering.
Five – decluttering, with special reference to the two bags she has removed today. One only arrived yesterday, the other last Saturday, so my view is that they represent clutter rather than declutter, particularly as most of the Saturday stuff is still here.
Six – the theory of two steps forward and one step back, and how it applies to our decluttering policy.
Seven – differential decluttering. Her stuff is essential (I am told) but mine is fit for the skip.
Eight – do I need treatment for my obsession with clutter?
Nine – design of roads, junctions, traffic lights, bus lanes, cycle lanes and such stuff.
Ten, with reference to Nine, is all this done to make driving so hard we use buses?
Eleven – what is actually in the bus drivers’ test – bullying, cutting corners, pulling off at short notice, providing cyclists with near death experiences? (This question was asked early in the journey, but asked again as I tried to change lanes with a bus bearing down on me.)
Twelve – should I have bought one of those flats by Trent Bridge when I first moved to Nottingham?
Thirteen – would we have had a family if we had a flat there?
Fourteen – if we had a flat, and a family, and had moved, would we have less clutter?
Fifteen – am I obsessed with clutter?
Sixteen – if I had realised that you only had to do five years in the French Foreign Legion would this have altered my attitude towards parenthood?
That covers the journey to work and the first few hundred yards of the journey back. For the second part, which is just as interesting as the first, please call back in a later.
No, not the books!
I decided it was time to get rid of some clothes.
There were three shirts that don’t fit. I’d been hanging onto them for years, meaning to get on with the diet. There was also one that, with hindsight, had been an error of judgement. Beige with alternating shiny and matt stripes. I’m not yet ready for two-tone beige.
Two pairs of trousers. See diet comments above.
Finally I shoved some ten-year-old vests in a bag marked “For Rags”. They are still quite wearable, but as I find myself exposing my underwear to hospital staff more regularly I’ve decided to upgrade.
It was a toss up between that or cutting them up and composting them (they are 100% cotton so would compost down nicely) but laziness won.
In case you are wondering – yes. Cotton underwear, wool socks and leather/cotton gardening gloves have all gone through my compost bins, never to be seen again.
The theory is that by getting rid of clutter I’m going to have a better life.
The picture shows Julia doing the complicated bit at the clothing bank while I sit in the car. You probably guessed that from the wing mirror.