If Mrs PM had her way, she would clear our house of a lot of my stuff. To her, I am a hoarder and my stuff is surplus to requirements and therefore needless mess that should either be sold or thrown away.
We’ve discussed this and the bottom line is that it simply is not going to happen.
However, the difference between our philosophies on the subject of household clutter has got me thinking. Over the years, we all buy and collect lots of things, some of which we hang on to for years – in some cases most of our lives.
Take music for example.
I have a large collection of CDs but I also have quite a few old vinyl records. The problem is that I don’t have a record player and I don’t intend to actually get one either. My records are really my own family heirlooms.
I still have the very first single that I bought with my own cash, earned from my very first job as a newspaper delivery boy, purchased at the age of 13 years old. That single will never get played again, unless I sell it to a record collector.
When I see it, I see a piece of my own childhood. I am reminded of a spotty bespectacled blonde kid running all the way home from Walsall town centre back home full of enthusiasm and excitement. Nowadays, I buy CDs online and I feel that same buzz of excitement when I get home and find the parcel on the floor.
Every record and every CD is like a milestone in my life and I simply cannot part with them – just yet anyway.
It’s the same story with books, although sadly Mrs PM has had her way with those. I now only keep reference books. I’ve allowed Mrs PM to purge my paperbacks because they don’t really mean that much to me. Besides, I have a Kindle and can keep them all electronically.
Earlier this year, my mum moved from her house to a flat, mainly because she is getting a little frail and a big house is too much for her. Consequently my sisters and I had to have a big clear out for her.
It was amazing. She’s now 76 years old and she is definitely a hoarder – or should I say was a hoarder. As she’s got older I think she has started to care less about all the trinkets and keepsakes that have cluttered up her house.
My sisters wanted to be ruthless but I was the voice of reason and tried my best to check with mum what she wanted to do with things. I was surprised when she said “I don’t want that now. I’m surprised I still have it.”
She kept the things most dear to her and the rest was discarded. She now lives in a small clutter free flat and I swear there is a spark in her eye that has been reignited.
When I looked in my old room, I found lots of battered old books dating from the 1930’s and 1940’s that my grandad passed onto her. I remember devouring them as a kid and it was really weird reading them again. In fact, as a child, I had defaced a couple of them, scribbling in the corners. There were worthless and falling apart, yet a part of me wanted to bring them home to Manchester and put them in the loft.
Mrs PM would never have allowed that.
I also found a few old things of my own, including school books from my sixth form and notes my university course. I made an exception with those and chose to bring them home, where they now reside in a cupboard in the back room.
I may never use them again (they are so out of date) but they did spark great memories of that time back in the early 1980’s. In fact, when I look at the maths notes, it’s almost like they are written in a different language. There are pages and pages of handwritten formulae, theorems and their proofs, equations, derivations and graphs and I wonder now how I managed to get my brain to understand them.
I must have been very clever in my youth as an undergraduate. I’m certain that if I spent some time revisiting them I might well make sense out of them again. I have no plans to do that at the moment; it just reminds me of what a bright kid I was.
Mrs PM, on the other hand, is as intelligent if not more so than I am – but she disagrees with my need to keep my notes. To her they are rubbish and she has discarded hers and sold all of her university books with absolutely no remorse at all.
She’s happy with her choice but I think it’s sad.
One day I may think differently and change my mind, just like my mum has.
For now, I will bask in my stuff and enjoy it – even those embarrassing CDs I bought in the 1980s, containing songs like this:
I don’t care what you think – I love it.
How about you dear reader?
How many keepsakes do you have buried in yourjunk drawer or in your loft?
Are you a hoarder who can’t bear to part with things?
What worthless trinkets do you have that reignite your nostalgia?