I have a theory that the contents of cupboards bubble and seethe, spreading out tentacles of tat to their brother cupboards. Their master plan is to engulf the entire house so that no carpet is left uncovered, and no doors can be opened without the contents bursting out. I was at this stage when I counted my trousers. I had 71 pairs. My wardrobe at the time extended to bin bags and boxes so it took me some time to get them all in one place. Eventually there they all were, a CV in cloth, a history of boyfriends, nights out, jobs, holidays, jumble sales and misguided bargain buys I had never worn. Thirty pairs were too small, 20 pairs plain hideous, 4 pairs too big, 5 pairs too good to wear hence they never got worn. Twelve pairs fitted me and 6 of these were regularly worn.
It was fairly easy coming to terms with the fact that I would never be a size 10 again and I reckoned that if I ever got to size 12 I would be out buying new clothes with all the money I had saved by not eating. The ugly trousers were no problem to say goodbye to, along with embarrassing memories of wearing them. The big trousers went, as I didn’t know I was going to be pregnant in a few years, damn. The smart trousers were tricky, they represented a lifestyle I aspired to, where cats didn’t wee in hallways, houses didn’t need radical renovations and dishes got washed by someone else. They were the sort of trousers I would never get a chance to wear unless it was to an interview and even then I’d be worried about spilling something down them. I kept them for another year before admitting to myself that I was not the sort of person that needed that many smart clothes.
The great trouser cull got me started and I spent months systematically sorting and getting rid of stuff I’d hoarded for years. I piled clothes on the bed and invited friends around to take what they wanted on the strict instructions they were not to show me what they had taken nor utter the phrase ‘Are you sure you want to get rid of this?’ My paperwork was pruned to one small box from a 4 drawer filing cabinet and I completely empted two rooms in my two bedroom house. Admittedly I got a bit carried away and threw away my birth certificate and a savings book by accident but on the whole I wasn’t missing stuff at all. It was great to be able to find things again.
Around the time I had reached a minimalistic plateau my boyfriend moved in with his collection of empty and clean takeaway containers, several computers and boxes of computer innards, more books, clothes, bedding…….stuff that was way out of my jurisdiction.
And then later came the baby with his boxes of toys, piles of nappies, clothes to be washed, hung out, brought in, put away, put on…. It’s a loosing battle. I still try to keep the clutter down. I only let myself by things if they are useful, but this rule is pretty bendy. I hand on baby clothes regularly and try to throw away empty takeaway containers without being detected, but I know I’m doomed to failure. I know that soon I will have a messy pile of my child’s artistic creations, it will be impossible to throw out his first shoes and we will need a bigger house. I am now the owner of 10 pairs of trousers and most of them get worn sometimes. I have not counted my jumpers.
copyright Lisa Cole www.lactivist.co.uk 2005