I recently moved house.
I won’t burden you with the details of the move, not because they’re not interesting, but because if I’m forced to relive the hell of the past few weeks I shall end up humming and rocking to myself in a corner, renting my clothes and tearing my hair, which might frighten the children. They’ve been traumatised enough by my transformation into Scary Packing Mummy, a loud and tense creature who runs through the house frantically grabbing things off shelves, a permanent marker clenched between her teeth, and masking tape hanging from her hair.
It’s been a strange month. My husband, a devotee of all things material, suddenly announced that he was becoming a Minimalist. He claimed that he had embraced a new philosophy, that in this era of consumerism we should renounce our possessions and downgrade for the sake of the universe. (Of course, in reality he had simply got sick of packing up his clothes and decided it was easier to throw them out.) He discarded a total of eight shirts, which probably would qualify him as a Minimalist, if you ignored the 35 shirts still left hanging in his wardrobe.
I liked the idea of becoming a Minimalist, but couldn’t possibly throw out my clothes. After all, you never know when an attractive eighties style grey leather jacket with angel sleeves and padded shoulders might come back in fashion. Still, I was perfectly prepared to do a thorough cull of my other possessions.
I searched through drawers and shelves, making a pile of completely useless and redundant items that any sensible person would have relegated to the rubbish bin years ago. Sadly, however, I am not sensible.
I contemplated the 1975 Brownie Guide Handbook, the bag of old keys, the containers of baby teeth (the kids’), the separate container of wisdom teeth (mine), the five wonky handmade photo frames, and the expensive silver ring that is about three sizes too big and can’t be re-sized because – as I discovered at the jeweller’s - it’s not actually silver. I kept them all.
I then considered the broken hairbrush that had belonged to my grandmother, the hideous porcelain baby from my husband’s childhood home, and the concert program from the Young Talent Time tour of 1982. Couldn’t throw them out either.
Still, at least I could discard the dusty 1979 All Jewish Cookbook, which detailed unappetising and frankly improbable recipes for such delicacies as Liver Strudel, Pineapple Relish, Baked Prune Whip, Fried Smelts, and about 35 varieties of Tongue. But then I noticed a dish called Wiener Nusstorte – not, as one might assume, a type of frankfurt, but in fact a rather delicious looking chocolate dessert - and, well… how could I throw out something with a Wiener Nusstorte?
Happily, I still had the children’s possessions to plunder. I ploughed through their toys, discarding naked troll dolls, orphaned beads, disabled Pokemon, a stale edible chess set, six more handmade photo frames, and two evil-looking red dollies that were a recent gift from my parents. But the kids were outraged at the loss of their “precious things” (who knew mouldy chess could be so indispensable?), and my poor mother looked crestfallen upon discovering the evil red dollies in the bin when she arrived to help me pack. I decided it was all too hard, and that excessive materialism was obviously the way to go.
So I packed and I packed and eventually I unpacked too. There were funny moments, but I can’t tell you about them now. For one thing, my fingers are too exhausted to type. And for another, I don’t want to start humming and rocking.