1- Dismantle football table and take it to the dump
2- Tidy up shed
3- Bring stuff down from/put stuff up in the loft
4- Organise bookshelf in the lounge.
The shed is yet to be tidied up at the time of writing (I can’t even go in there myself; it’s a jungle of furniture and garden tools), but two of the other jobs my wife asked me to do recently were carried out almost to perfection. My son pulled the football table apart and I took it to the local dump. I also brought stuff down from the shed and put some other stuff back up there.
As for the bookshelf in the lounge…
That job got half-done, if I am being honest. My heart was not in it. I am a hoarder and when it comes to books, it is hard for me to let go.
|Oh, c'mon, it wasn't that bad!|
Recently I read an article by one of my favourite columnists, Eva Wiseman, on a new book that has just come out and which deals with the ubiquitous – and to some – annoying world of clutter. In The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Marie Kondo advocates a clutter-free world. That the author thinks this can be achieved in a quick and easy way shows how deluded some self-help writers are these days. Let’s be honest, who has not ever indulged in a bit of junk-collecting? Mind you, it’s not all intentional. But we accumulate stuff throughout life. In fact, one of my favourite words in English is “stuff”. It’s a typical term for this Germanic lexicon’s tendency to economise language. Such a short word and yet so much meaning in it. Stuff covers our toy-strewn childhood, our adolescence with its crushes, bust-ups and disappointments. It moves through our young adulthood like blood pumping through our veins in all directions of our body; constantly, unconsciously and relentlessly. It does not stop in our mature years. In fact “stuff” helps us reconnect with our younger selves.
However, at some point “stuff” must stop. This is the hard part. This is what Eva was writing about. She has accumulated so much personal memorabilia through her young life that she could set up her own museum. But as a new family, she, her boyfriend and their baby demand a certain order. Only in these circumstances can I understand de-cluttering.
As I sat in front of our bookshelf (I say “our”. My wife’s books occupy the top part. The bottom two shelves are taken over by mine. I also had volumes spilling out of the shelves, sitting in piles scattered across the floor, hence the need for the “clearing out”) I did not see literature but history. Personal history. I started to remember when, where and how I had bought a certain book. The online reviews that led me to part with my money and the below-the-line comments that followed were still ringing in my ears.
This is the difficulty of tidying up. You clean up your house but with the rubbish you also discard a bit of yourself. Because, believe you me my dear fellow blogger, with each poetry tome, magazine and novella I chucked out, a part of me abandoned my body. In the end I decided to donate all the books to one of my local charity shops.
Message to Marie Kondo: de-cluttering is never easy. In fact, it can be rather cruel and heart-breaking.
Talking of organising, one of the upsides of my recent bookshelf-tidying-up was a very welcome encounter with the poetry of Ali Jimale Ahmed. Ali is a Somali poet whose book Fear is a Cow I bought in 2008 at a bookshop in Brick Lane (what did I say before about books, de-cluttering and memories? I can even remember the clothes I was wearing that day). The poetry collection was sandwiched in between two heavyweights ( I think it was The Second Sex and Ulysses) so that was one reason why I had not paged through the book for a good three or four years.
What I like doing with poetry is open the book on any page at random and say out loud to myself: read the first poem on the right/left, top or bottom of the page. Sometimes there is only one poem which makes the job easy for me. From now on, once in a while I will share one of these "random" poems with you. I hope you enjoy the first entry of this new section. Shall we call it “random poetry”? Or even better, “random poetry after the tidying-up”?
The damask rays of a morning sun
Gatecrash through the chinks of our shack
Beckoning us to a hilltop
And to a time neither fettered by guilt
Nor swamped by dreams
Housed in bubbles of ineptitude
Through the chinks of our shack
the damask beams
of a mourning sun beckoning
us to a hilltop and to a time
Neither sequestered by fear
nor swamped by dreams
housed in bubbles of servitude
Next Post: “Killer Opening Songs”, to be posted on Wednesday 24th June at 6pm (GMT)