Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Keep, throw, donate or recycle?

I have been doing quite a lot of clearing lately.

It is a slow process. Much slower than I expected it to be.

Everything has to be examined and smiled at, or a few tears shed. Every book has to be checked for train tickets or bits of paper with scribbled notes on used as bookmarks. Every item of clothing has to be held close, the memories remembered and a decision taken as to whether I can let it go yet. Every notebook has to be checked just in case it contains some of his writings or perhaps some important detail about the house.

I thought I would be good at this. I can throw out or donate my own belongings without a second thought. Yet William Morris' exhortation to "have nothing in your house that you do not know to use, or believe to be beautiful" doesn't really help when faced with a drawerful of what a friend of mine calls "kibble". Those little things that obviously once had some purpose and were put away because they might be needed again, but it is not entirely apparent why. I wish I were brave enough to just take a binbag and empty all that sort of stuff into it, but I'm not.
So the process continues at its own snail-like pace.

I did have to laugh at this, though.

At the bottom of a drawer I found a box containing every single expired credit card, library card, AA card (the Automobile Association, not the other one!) and assorted other cards covering a roughly ten-year period.

Can someone explain to me why a grown man, apparently in his right mind, would keep all this?
If I check on e-Bay will I find that a ten year-old expired Labour Party membership card will fetch a small fortune in the right circles? Was he planning a new career as a house-breaker and collecting a toolkit for opening locks? Did he actually use them for scraping ice off car windows?

And when you have explained that, perhaps you can give me some idea why he might have kept these as well!


  1. I have a big smile on my face.

  2. just being cautious, of course. You never know who might raid trash bins for your expired labor card membership number.

    I love that quotation. Used to try and live by it, too. How often we talked about not holding on to stuff, even being rather incredulous at what some people held onto of their father's or grandparents', creating mausoleums. Now, everything is precious. The sight of his handwriting still takes my breath away. I have his credit cards and photo id, still on this table, as I type. Everything is evidence that he was here once, really.

  3. love him.

    Know someone just like him.


  4. Well, this is fun! Finding things out about your husband you didn't know.

  5. Tonight I just went through a large basket from the storage shed filled with old paperwork. I like you, sort through it all in case an old note, card, photo or other significant item has slipped in between the old newspapers and junk mail that somehow has been around for seven years! Yes, I find a few things among the junk - tonight I held a credit card receipt signed by my husband from a time he went to the grocery store. I tired to put it in the recycle bag but in seeing his signature, it went into the "memory bag." I could not throw it out and I don't care if anyone thinks I should have. I just couldn't. I know it doesn't make any sense holding on to this but I guess what part of any of this does?