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Three categories of junk

October 15, 2018

I have been sorting through the top drawer in my desk.

I started by looking for the thirty Euros I had left over from visiting Finland last year to add it to the Euros I’ve just bought for my trip to Germany. Having found the notes I’m now giving the drawer a good sort out both because it needs it and because it’s a good way to avoid the things I really ought to be doing this evening, like finishing my A&E contribution.

There’s three categories of junk here. There’s the stuff I kept because I thought it might be useful which includes the huge number of loose rubber bands in there, which are being sorted into a ziplock bag when found. I’m also chucking out Viagra which is past its sell by date and other things I think I no longer need.

There’s the stuff I’m keeping because I’m sentimental, like the collection of old con badges and lanyards. Those are going into a large brown paper envelope marked ‘OLD CON BADGES AND LANYARDS’. Actually the lanyards may see further use at later cons especially the Handycon ones: they operate on a budget and ask you to reuse your lanyard. Additionally, I came across an old Bodleian library card with a picture of me in my twenties on it. I should probably put that into the scrap book.

Finally there’s the stuff I was too lazy to throw away. I feel some sort of justification for stuffing the used batteries in there (they need to be taken down to Sainsbury’s to be disposed of) but why did I keep a piece of plastic with the words ‘Ben Sherman’ on it? I think I bought some of their shirts once?

I’ll spend some more time getting it cleared up but I’m not fooling myself that I’ll ever get my life organised. Overthrowing the habits of a lifetime isn’t a thing I’ve ever been good at.


Well, the fit of tidiness is over now. I really need to get together a bigger one to get the flat ready for visitors to come in and feed Monty while I’m away. But supper is my next project.

In addition to the ziplock bag full of rubber bands, I ended up with another containing an assortment of Christmas flavoured present tags which my family will recognise again when I use them on their presents this year. I haven’t yet checked in the storage in the hall but it’s likely they’ll recognise the paper I use too…

Buying more than you need is dictated by the fact that chain shops don’t want to sell you things in just the quantities you need. Keeping the spares for later is a habit those of us brought up by parents who lived through the 1930s have imbued in us: it’s hard to give up.

What I am dreading is getting the old person’s syndrome of getting a spare one ‘just in case’. I’m living in a one bedroom flat that is already overcrowded with books and games and I can’t afford the storage space that my Aunt Kath used to put things she bought and used once and then put away. Nor the spare frozen food. Mind you one of the categories of things tidied away from the top drawer is spare batteries that I picked up from her store of them when I tidied the house.

I think it comes from two things: forgetting you’ve got enough in store already as your memory fades and not trusting that your good fortune will last and you’ll still have money tomorrow. I know a bit of that latter fear myself and I try my damnedest not to let it consume me. The insouciance of the true artist who despises money! That’s the pose I’m working on. I sometimes convince myself.

If the Brexit negotiations go as badly as they look like going at the moment and we crash out, the fear and hoarding behaviour of the elderly population especially is going to be something to see next spring.

One Comment
  1. Another reason: it took you a long time to find exactly the right Thing (frying pan, pen, shovel), and you have no faith that they will still be available when this one breaks (because consumerism means constant design churn). So you buy a spare.

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