One of the biggest tensions in modern life, well my modern life anyway, is achieving some sort of balance between the effects of nostalgia and the demands of available space in the home.
My daughter is home from university for the summer and trying to assimilate the contents of her student flat in London into her bedroom for the next few months.
Clearing out her cupboard she found some old newspapers and handed them to me for recycling. As I was doing so I noticed that they were quite old – in fact they were the newspapers I bought on the day she was born, thinking that that might be a nice thing for her to have one day, forgetting perhaps that you have to wait until your late middle-age for nostalgia to start nibbling at your resolve to keep a tidy home.
I have been working intermittently on tracing my ancestors, so have learned to value such windows into the past. To be fair my daughter had not noticed the date and of course now is happy for me to retain them pending her desire to claim them back one day. Headlines don’t change much, by the way. ‘Bishop had £2M, claims Mistress’, ‘The Bugging of Britain’, and ‘Police face sack for incompetence’ were the three from her natal day.
My late mother was a clutter-phobe and prone to discard our treasured possessions if she thought we wouldn’t notice.
Some years after leaving home I asked about my childhood teddy bear, having suddenly remembered my former best friend (shades of Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin there).
She informed me with some surprise and a little irritation, as I recall, that she had assumed I didn’t want him as I had left him behind and given him to charity. I can still reproduce the look and feel of his much loved worn fur in my imaginings and much though I loved my mother it did cast a brief shadow over our relationship, I must confess.
Perhaps as a result I am loath to discard anything that might sit in the memories box of life.
School reports, exercise books, games, toys, photographs, general ‘stuff’ that reminds me of my childhood jostle for space at Baker towers and try the patience of my long suffering wife who is thankfully aware of the Great Teddy Bear Tragedy and has thus far resisted her urge to cull.