I have a lot of stuff.  Over the years, despite having a huge clear-out each time I’ve moved house, I have accumulated a lot of possessions.  Nothing grand or expensive, still not much furniture (the eternal London renter), but nonetheless, a lot of stuff.  I’ve lived in my current flat for 5 years and upon moving in I stored some of my treasured, unable-to-part-with items, in the garden shed.  The garden shed is no longer waterproof and it is being repaired.  This requires moving my items out of the way for the duration of the repair work, so last weekend I sorted through the bags & boxes I stored away 5 years ago.  Joy.  Just the kind of chore I hate.  I’d rather clean the bathroom.  But I’d already postponed this sort out for a few weeks and with the work being done this week I was out of time for another excuse.  I tried to make the most of being in the garden in the glorious sunshine we had on Sunday, so donned my bikini top and shorts to get some sun whilst I worked.  I discovered a few gems amongst my old CD collection (which I shall not own up to!) but mostly I realised what of course I already knew; I don’t need any of this crap.  Apart from the xmas decs which have come out each year I haven’t touched anything I stored in there 5 years ago: tennis rackets (I haven’t played since school), a fluffy rug, my CD player with a stack of CDs, a pink plastic cocktail shaker, a money box full of coppers (I did check it though obviously), lengths of fabric & a sewing machine, a bedside fan, an electric heater…both relics from previous flats with unreliable temperature controls. 
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Why do we insist upon holding onto various items which no longer fulfil their intended use?  An attempt to validate the money spent?  The belief that they will come in handy one day and a desire to not be wasteful?  When I moved 5 years ago, did I honestly believe I’d eventually find some space for the CD player & rescue it & the CDs from languishing in the shed?  I doubt it.  I just couldn’t, or didn’t want, to let go of that part of my life.  The childish part that got excited buying a new album from Woolworths, my first ‘grown-up’ birthday present when I was about fourteen, from my Nana just before she died.  These physical possessions, or more specifically removing them from my life won’t erase the memories I have of proudly going to the electrical shop and being allowed to choose the CD player I wanted.  When I learnt that my mother had visited the same small electrical shop to purchase a camera for my 30th many years later I didn’t need to have the CD player squirreled away in the shed to make a connection.  When so many in the world have so little do I really need to keep buying stuff, filling the small flat with belongings.  Does all this stuff about the place really tell people who I am and where I’ve been?  Surely my friends & family know that already.  I do. 
Let me be clear: I’m not a hoarder.  I no longer keep ticket stubs or business cards from restaurants I visit unless I’m travelling, if something is broken I recycle or throw it away and I regularly sort through my wardrobe and take a few bags to charity (granted this is when I can no longer close my drawers).  I don’t keep every card ever posted to me as I did as a teenager.  But I do keep some of them; those with wise or loving words inside.  Instead, I have now progressed to postcards from exhibitions I visit, of which I have dozens propped up on display, overlapping & competing to remind me of various artists’ work I connected with or enjoyed.  Do they really serve as a reminder? Do they help conjure up the feelings I had whilst viewing the work?  And I still tear out magazine articles that I really like, those where I feel the writer could have been sat inside my head and they have eloquently expressed something I’ve been unable to.  Or articles that have fascinated me and taught me something new.  Ok, maybe I am a hoarder????  But I keep them in 1 small box so it’s not really that bad.  And when the shed is fixed I’ll be able to pop the box in there and it won’t be in the way.  Until it’s time to move again…… 
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