My Dad is organised. My Mum not so.
They both have a tendency to keep things. A lot of things.
So as I sort through my own belongings after moving house, the biggest question is what to throw and what to keep?
My Dad values books. My Mum values curios; rare, intriguing or unusual objects.
But I think what we are all hoarding are memories, and as I’ve realised, not just our own.
Some years ago I received a collection of old dolls in national costumes that you bought as travel souvenirs. As I took them from the shoe-box, they were crushed and some of the costumes had faded. Some are better made than others (and I love the blinking eyes). But they belong on a shelf and I have precious little shelf-space.
I have an attachment to old books. So many of these titles have been digitised now, perhaps that’s the way to go? But I can’t help holding on to the eras they represent.
I have always developed literary ‘crushes’. When I lived in London, my Dad introduced me to the writing of Gertrude Bell. (Nicole Kidman has made Queen of the Desert about the life of this amazing woman).
In London, I did a food-writing course and discovered the life Elizabeth David. My collection of her books and books about her are something I cannot let go of.
Then there’s the China and Middle-East period and the carpets and furniture I have lovingly bought in markets and souks and lugged with me all over the world. Sigh.
I’ve concluded that one should keep very few things and to let our treasures go quickly, preferably to good homes and people.
It’s supposed to feel good to give to the Salvos or Vinnies, but leaving bags of memories alongside the other over-stuffed donations at the op-shops doesn’t feel right.