“Purging the house of extraneous tat” (Bridget Jones)

It’s a funny thing, clearing out a home. It calls for endless decisions and lots of grit. I think it’s harder if you have any creative bones in your body because you’re constantly thinking ‘Oh but I could…..’

“Oh but I could cut that up and use a bit of it in some patchwork; oh but I could take photos of that and make a collage, oh but I could felt that old jumper and make a bear, oh but I could get the teenage son to whittle that into a shrew and give it to his grandchildren…”

Or even worse: ‘Oh but I was going to….’ You’re kind of giving up on dreams. Ding-ding, time’s up! You’re never going to get round to making that full-sized chicken-wire flamingo with paper-mache ukelele and feather boa fashioned from individually-stitched feathers using recycled ticket stubs: Get a grip! 


One project I did complete was this cupboard back in April. It took about an hour, give or take 13 years of intermittent thinking time.


The top bit is covered with my dad’s old sheet music – a classic example of Things You Don’t Want But Can’t Not Have. Here’s the thing. My dad never quite got over the fact that I didn’t want to gather round the piano to sing parlour songs with him. Before you ‘BOOOO!’ too loudly, just think – it was the 80’s. I had big brittle hair, neon earrings, plastic shoes, and matching metallic nails/ lips. No matter how much he pleaded, my whole BEING was violently resistant to the idea of singing the harmonies to “Come into the Garden Maud”. On your way to the roller disco? Bring your friend into the dining room first and join in with a rendition of “The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane” or, worse, “Kiss me Goodnight Sergeant Major”!! The friends thought it was amusing of course, but I wasn’t feeling it. I know some people will think it’s a crime to cut up these songs but there we are: the deed is done, and the maroon doors and offensive Spongebob Squarepants stickers are covered up. I’ve brought dad’s songs into the light and they make me smile. I like to think he would have settled for that.

It’s glorious to have a sort-out and I actually really love finding homes for things, or chucking them in the tip. There’s an online scrapbook called Pinterest where people post projects like this and we all spend hours admiring them…. it’s so inspiring and lovely, but it’s not a total representation of life. THIS, dear reader, is real life when you’re sorting out your house. Colour saturation 100% for maximum horror:


And NOBODY feels like singing “The Lost Chord”, let alone jigging around to “The Floral Dance”. I like to think the flowers from Helen Moore set it all off nicely… and my ‘family emigration planner’ on the cupboard door gives an air of ordered calm. All that’s missing is a flamingo.