York life and life in general

York Life

And Life in General 

Columnist

Rachel Ragg

As I look around at the piles of books and boxes, I realise there is nothing for it. I have to embark on a serious decluttering mission. 

Or that’s what my friend Rebecca tells me, when she comes for lunch armed with a roll of heavy-duty bin-bags.

CDs? She says. Nobody listens to CDs any more (even though I do, or I would if my CD player weren’t buried somewhere among the clutter). Nobody needs five copies of the same piece of sheet music. Do I really need to keep every picture the children have ever drawn?

I submit. And while I refuse to budge on the books – a Kindle is definitely not the same – I eventually accept that she might have a point when I see how clear and clutter-free my sitting room looks. No ancient invitations and tickets on the chimney-piece; no hair bobbles roosting on the door-handles; paperwork in the bureau rather than occupying any random surface; records dispatched to Vinyl Eddie; old lampshades deposited at St Leonard’s.

“See: you can do it,” Rebecca says. “In fact, you can do it with the rest of the house, now you have seen how easy it is.”

Ho hum.

She is, of course, absolutely right, I think, as I wander upstairs. I am greeted by a mountain of boxes, still not unpacked despite two house moves. A bin-bag seems a challenge too far, but I manage to fill a carrier bag with items for St Leonard’s. So far, so good. This particular activity also means I can get rid of one of the 3,000 or so Bags for Life currently blocking access to the freezer (itself a treasure-trove of frozen clutter).

Full of decluttering zeal, I return to St Leonard’s and donate my modest haul. But then a pair of curtains catches my eye. They might just be perfect for my sitting room. And there are some wine glasses which would be excellent for when mine get broken. Not to mention more books, and a pair of red boots, which might come in handy at Christmas time.

While I’m in the Bishopthorpe Road vicinity, I might as well visit Age UK. Here I buy a decorative jug and a suitcase, in case I can’t find mine.

Never mind decluttering: recluttering is evidently my forte.

It’s all very well, getting rid of things – but to my mind, it simply increases the amount of space available to introduce new clutter (for want of a better word). 

This is, of course, very different from hoarding. I happily chuck old newspapers out, and have no interest at all in keeping old jam-jars. Well, I might keep jam jars, but they represent jam-making possibilities, and are therefore absolutely don’t fall into the ‘clutter’ or ‘hoarding’ category.

And where better to reclutter than Wombells Auction House? After all, everyone needs a crumb-scoop and some grape scissors. Not to mention a corner cupboard (when you have no spare corners), a mahogany tea-caddy, a non-working old black telephone (which will work one day, when I get round to finding someone who can fix it), and four banana boxes containing “a quantity of linen”. Minimalist living has nothing on a bathroom full of rugs and an important collection of Coronation mugs.

Once you get the recluttering bug, it’s impossible not to spy must-have items everywhere. Skips are of great interest (to an awful lot of people, to judge by the crowd inspecting the one parked outside the Dean Court Hotel last week). I have never, yet, gone in for skip-diving, but I can entirely see the appeal.

As for Hazel Court (i.e. the Tip): it’s a reclutterer’s Paradise. Endless cars filled with possibilities. Chairs, tables, fridges… it takes all my will-power not to offer to relieve my fellow Tip-goers of their clutter. After all, another broken television might make the perfect companion for my existing two.

Of course, I really ought to overcome my recluttering tendencies. But I’ll think about that once I’ve just had a quick trawl round the charity shops of Goodramgate.

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