In most things the husband and I are like chalk and cheese. Especially when it comes to things/stuff. I don’t like too much stuff. Christopher loves stuff. I think stuff is annoying and requires putting away, tidying up or dusting. Christopher attaches sentimental value to absolutely everything he possesses and never wants to chuck anything out even when it is broken.
At this point you will no doubt be thinking I’m a heartless and cruel wife who cares little for the memories attached to possessions. Really I am not. I’ve a box containing several decades worth of cards and letters from loved ones; scribbles and doodles I’ve stolen from notebooks of friends when they weren’t looking; beermats and ticket-stubs from wonderful nights out; gifts crafted by the children of friends that are largely made out of dried pasta and glitter. I am, at heart, a romantic. I’m not talking about significant stuff. I’m talking about common-or-garden STUFF. It’s this kind of STUFF that has value to the husband and we are running out of room.
Pieces of interesting wood, oddly bent nails, old foreign coins that aren’t legal tender, corks from nice bottles of wine, an entire museum of old mobile phone chargers through the ages, bits of old souvenir tat – you name it – Christopher will put it in a draw and keep it sacred. Soon, I fear there will be a documentary made about the fact that we can’t get in the house unless we crawl in on our bellies through the catflap because of all of his STUFF.
Worse still he’s taken to keeping some of his stuff on show because – in his words – ‘if I can’t see it, I forget that I’ve got it’. Based on this principle I now feel I ought to remind him of my name and job title every time I re-enter the room, just in case he’s forgotten who I am.
Tidying up after him is pointless because then he can’t find anything and so I’m forced to spend my time locating his possessions for him as and when he needs them. Although I must admit there is a certain pleasure afforded by this process – for example watching him rediscover his favourite fountain pen which he thought he’d lost because he hadn’t seen it since yesterday (it was in his desk drawer).
I’ve tried covertly chucking things out but he craftily seems to go through the bags designated for the bin / charity shop / recycling and just re-homes the items again in the barn which is apparently no-mans-land for STUFF and therefore afforded some kind of diplomatic immunity.
The other week I threw out some clothes that were so very old and worn that even the charity shop would have declined them. I was going to take them to the clothing bin at the recycling centre but they went missing. Of course I found them in the barn where they have been recommissioned as cloths to mop up oil spills when doing tractor repairs. I’d be ok with this if the aforementioned items didn’t include nightwear and if our tractor maintenance wasn’t also done by a range of Christopher’s male friends from the village. Call me a prude but it seems wrong that they’ll be wiping their dipsticks on my nightie.
While of course I applaud his natural ability to recycle, I feel I must curb his inner-hoarder before I wake up one morning and realise I’m living in Steptoe’s yard (possibly with Steptoe himself – don’t get me started on the vest/longjohns combo that Christopher favours at this time of year). So he doesn’t know it yet but January will see me launch the 2013 CRACKDOWN ON STUFF. It will be brutal. If it doesn’t work, isn’t useful, leaks, has holes, it’s had it.
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