Thursday, November 30, 2023

The stuff of legends and the other stuff

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Steve Wyn-Harris sorts through a lifetime of possessions ahead of his big move.
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I bet hoarders don’t reckon they are hoarders. I certainly am not one. But I do seem to have accrued quite a bit of stuff over my lifetime.

I see a definition of a hoarding disorder is where someone acquires an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner, usually resulting in unmanageable amounts of clutter. The items can be of little or no monetary value.

I wouldn’t say there has been any chaotic storage going on around here, or unmanageable amounts of clutter for that matter.

The definition of a compulsive hoarder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them.

I haven’t had a persistent difficulty in discarding but must admit to being challenged somewhat this week in discarding a few long-held and treasured possessions.

We are moving house.

We’ve bought a house 10 minutes away to allow the next generation to live and run the farming business from here.

And they have made it clear they don’t want anything left behind. That’s fair enough, and given this week’s experience it will make their own shift in the distant future easier.

This has been my home base for 62 years and I’ve lived here for all but seven of those years. Jane and I have lived here together for nearly 40 years.

So I have never had any need to declutter my own stuff before. And some of those possessions were my parents’ and even grandparents’ things. Jane of course brought her own family history with her; we’ve bought furniture to bring up three sons and we’ve even ended up with their things as two of them are still migratory.

I suggested to the incomers they at least let us leave the antique Welsh dresser

My distant ancestors built it themselves and inscribed E&I and the date 1763 on it. I look at it and think of that Davies family eking out an existence in the brooding hills of Wales 260 ago.

But the next generation said no, they didn’t want it and there was no way it was going on the bonfire that has been fed all week by my own history, so we are taking it to store in case one of the other two put up their hand.

Years ago I did a fun television programme where Dick Frizzell taught 10 of us farmers who had no talent or training in art to paint. Some of my mates turned out to be surprisingly good.

But not me. My painting of a lonely winding CHB road has never hung on a wall and had no chance of doing so in the future. All the same, I had great difficulty throwing it into the all-consuming flames.

I had a grandfather who was a governor general in Africa in the dying days of colonialism.

For 80 years several large albums of photos and newspaper cuttings have been stored in that dresser. Photos of him with the Duke of Edinburgh as they boated up the Gambia River, shot crocodiles, and sat down to long-ago banquets. And of elegantly dressed Africans engaged in everyday life.

Unlike the painting, I couldn’t burn these, and they remain in the dresser while I work out what to do with them.

When I was a hippy in Asia in the early 1980s I acquired a couple of Indian batiks of Shiva and Vishnu and, once back, got them tastefully framed.

They only got to display their splendour for about a year; once we got married they were consigned to a cupboard with my other tasteful art.

Then poor old Shiva and Vishnu were consigned to the heavens in a column of smoke along with my other paintings, but Jane’s are coming with us.

I’d kept my first PC, a Windows 95, along with the now odd-looking box-shaped monitor, reckoning these would make great museum items one day.

Sadly not, as they headed towards the dump.

I’ve kept my music records as they are back in fashion but went through the tapes and CDs and kept only the best. Just in case.

A big problem were the books.

We’ve always loved books and have a large bookcase to house them, but the incomers said take them all.

We’ve got books that are 150 years old through to recent ones we’ve enjoyed.

We went through book by book and managed to send a good third to the Lion’s Bookarama fundraiser but  with no bookcase at the new house, the rest have been boxed and shifted, delaying the inevitable I suppose.

There are now a large number of banana boxes in the shed at the new house and when we have a bit more time will have another round of reducing and decluttering.

Now we are in an empty house with just a bed, fridge and computer as we clean and paint, readying ourselves for our final departure in the next few days.

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