So, leaving London. Leaving London, and a chance to get rid of all this junk.
Where did it come from?! I arrived with a rucksack, I’m leaving in a car. Part of that is because I’ve got a desktop computer, but the larger part is… Is what? Some books, although nowhere near as much as I had at one point. Clothes… I’m not even someone who specifically buys clothes, all my jeans (all of them, all three pairs) have holes in the crotch. Sometimes gaping holes. Old t-shirts, old shirts, trousers washed out of shape. I never buy clothes, how the hell did I end up with so many of them?!
Then just… just stuff. A slow cooker. Why do I have a slow cooker?! I’m sure I tried, very hard, not to get a slow cooker. It was definitely up there with sandwich toaster and juicer as Something I Would Never Buy, in the sure and certain knowledge that I would never use it.
It’s under the bed.
Piles of blank CDs and DVDs, because you never know when you might need one, except of course whenever I do need one I can’t find any of the piles so have to go out and buy 100 more, just for that single install disk of Linux I need to use a single time.
I have so, so many Linux install discs. And a CD featuring photos of me in compromising positions taken when I was in my early twenties. You might ask why I don’t simply upload them all to cloud storage but we all know how that story ends.
Mysterious cables. You all know about mysterious cables so I’m just going to leave it at that.
Half used blister packs of antiretrovirals and associated anti-nausea medication. Because as we all know, when you’re HIV negative the one thing you definitely, absolutely must stockpile is antiretroviral medication. It might come in useful one day.
Inflatable boyfriend, a joke secret Santa present, unopened. In my possession since 2007.
And then of course there’s the stuff I actually want to keep, the stuff that’s actually important. Not ‘might come in useful one day’ important and not ‘guilt about throwing stuff away’ important, but actually important.
Paddy, the hand puppet mum made me when I was 5. Mix CDs from when people still did mix CDs. Ticket stubs from the rare gigs I go to, ticket stubs from Peru, wedding invites. Old photographs, old letters. Daft keepsakes from old boyfriends. The stuff that will never, ever come in useful one day but is all so painfully important.
The really important stuff could fit into a shoebox.
Piles of notebooks, on top of notebooks, occupying this hinterland between really important and really should chuck. Some are full of my scribbles, but most… Sometimes you just need to write, you know? And I can never find a bloody notebook because usually the mood takes me when I’m out and haven’t brought a notebook, so I get another notebook. And then don’t take it out with me again.
I stopped taking them out all the time because I’d invariably end up writing phone numbers and shopping lists in them and of course they weren’t meant for that, they were meant for my innermost thoughts and my idle ponderings. I mean that’s daft, who cares about innermost thoughts and idle ponderings? If you want to be remembered in a thousand years time, write a shopping list. On acid-free paper.
I’ve got happier about that as I’ve got older, kind of charmed by it. Now I always take one out with me, find joy in the occasional stain of real life in them; to-do lists which largely enumerate things I failed to do.
Junk. Good junk and bad junk, junk that might come in useful one day but which I’ll never remember I have; junk which is of no use to anyone and which I never look at, and would be heartbroken to lose. So much bloody junk, accreted around me as I live my life.
Like I say, I’m leaving London soon. 200 miles isn’t a long way but it’s a good reason to get rid of the junk. The useful junk, anyway. Not the important, useless junk.
Dad’s diary entry for a certain day in 1981 states plainly, ‘baby born’