Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Bored Games (or How Not to Go Minimalist in One Day)

A friend who has an admittedly small collection of books on how to declutter tells me that in order to do it properly you have to completely empty the room.
Easy peasy.
I did that the other day, after Mr T. the Decorator arrived on the doorstep asking if he could bring forward the proposed work on my sitting room. Bring it forward to the next day, he thought, whereas I had been thinking about it sometime in a couple of months, maybe when it was warmer, when the light was stronger, when I could possibly face the upheaval.

So, of course, I said 'Yes'.
And promptly broke all my New Year Non-Resolutions by climbing on a ladder to empty the top shelves of a high ceilinged room.
Down came the board games, the jigsaws deemed impossible, the big old art books of Flemish painters, the catalogues of exhibitions long past, the tattered story-book relics of my childhood with illustrations that I may want to look at again, my father's collection of books on wine (one of my sons might want them) and countless other treasures I haven't seen for years.
The room was emptied in a few hours. Decluttering is easy.

Stuff is dumped on the kitchen table, on the stairs, in the hall, in the study. On the kitchen table sit several clocks, a Victorian desk-set, a collection of cast-iron money boxes, a couple of tea-caddies, a big brass candle-stick, an Edwardian writing cabinet and a box my father made in order to impress my mother when they became engaged.
Do I want to keep them?
Yes. Of course I do, even if the clocks keep different times and chime throughout the night. The brass candlestick was a Christening present, the iron money boxes came from a family foundry.
Important stuff.

In the study is a great cardboard carton of board games, some probably missing essential playing pieces. I will have to check them all.
There's Monopoly.
My experience of Monopoly is that it goes on far too long and brings out the worst in competitive people. A board game that very quickly becomes a bored game for me. Monopoly can go to a charity shop, and so can many of the others, except for Pictionary, which is funny and fast and not very competitive unless you really want it to be.
I look at Escape From Atlantis, complete with its Atlantean Swirler, six each of sharks, sea-monsters, octopuses and dolphins, twelve boats with sails, 37 different plastic sections to build an island, and no less than 48 Atlantean tribesmen in four different colours. The little tribesmen must escape the sinking island and get to the safety of the coral reef, through a sea laced with danger.
Ah, the memories.... of wet afternoons in the caravan when it took half an hour just to set up the board, and less than a second for a frustrated loser to kick the table and collapse the lot.
Atlantis must stay, and Jenga and Scrabble even though I now play Scrabble on-line (anyone want to play?). There are a few other interesting things, when I look again. Othello is good, and someone might fancy Trivial Pursuit again one day.

The carton becomes marginally lighter,
The books, of course, are a different matter. What I will do is look at each one before I decide if it goes back on a shelf in the freshly decorated room or, possibly, to a charity shop.

Then there are the jigsaws. There are a couple by Thomas Kincade, Painter of Light with fiendishly complex villages and harbours full of twinkly lamplight. I do not like to be defeated by a jigsaw, so I might keep them for when the weather is too bad for me to get into the garden.......


marigold jam said...

It's all a bit hopeless really isn't it? The older we get the more memories are evoked byy "sruff" and the more we want to keep it all! Decluttering someone elses stuff now would be easy as there would not be the memories and one could be quite ruthless. Good luck and if you do decide to keep most of it then be careful how you climb the steps to put it all back where it will be months if not years before you see it all again!! Bon courage as they say in France.

marigold jam said...

When will I learn to proof read my comments before I press "Publish your comment"? Sorry about the typos.

Relatively Retiring said...

Marigold: thank you for both your comments. I'm sure you're right - the only way to do it is to go and do someone else's while they do yours. But I'm really trying......

gz said...

The one snag is that you need enough space in which to empty the room to........

The Elephant's Child said...

And there are two pack rats in this house. Collecting (hoarding) different things. I could declutter his as easily as he could do mine, and start an impressive small war in the process. Sigh.
In our last house painting perhaps half a small box of things was disposed of.
Good luck.

Zhoen said...

I'd love to play Scrabble with an actual person online. I didn't like the computer opponent - too focused on scores and none on the beauty of the words.

Nothing like a move to declutter.

Leslee said...

Oh, so many memories in one's stuff! And so much wonderful family history in yours.

I did move twice in 2 years awhile back and it was exhausting but I did get rid of a lot. Alas, not all, as a bunch of stuff I didn't have time to sort through came along in boxes (sigh). I really do want to do another major clean-out soon - declutter the house, declutter the mind.

Anne said...

You have my sympathy. Six years after my mother's death I am still dealing (from time to time) with her stuff. I figure that's my life-time contribution to such efforts. My stuff (not nearly so copious as Mother's) can be sorted by my children after I die, if they like. If they don't, they can dump it all. I am not going to make any more of those wrenching decisions in my declining years.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could do clutter.

As a woman I must have a gene missing because my house is like an operating theatre with not an ornament in sight!

My sisters are all brilliant at taking a few beautiful plates and arranging them artfully, if I try it looks as though I've forgotten to do the washing up.

Enjoy you clutter.


Frances said...

What a beautiful christening present, Relatively Retiring. And is the smaller box on the table - it looks to be mahogany - the one that your father made? I'm an admirer of boxes: so mysteriously full of potential, and that one looks very beautiful.
I'm so pleased that your health scare was a hollow threat.
And, congratulations on your new job: I would be lost without mine.

Jenny Woolf said...

I so entirely sympathise. The only solution for me is to make a rational decision about what must go, then quickly rush out with the stuff to the charity shop.

I have to say I almost never miss it. Often, it's just a matter of actually thinking about it rather than hanging on to it as if it is mummy leaving me alone in the shop when I am 5! :)

Molly said...

I think you've nailed it---it would be a walk in the park if I decluttered the garage and my husband decluttered my sewing room, except we'd probably never speak to each other again!

I have never played Scrabble on-line but would like to give it a try!tesoptus

Relatively Retiring said...

Apologies to all those who failed to get a response to their comment, and apologies for my own silence on your blogs. I've been without broadband for some time now, and am still not properly connected. I have run out of steam, attempting to be talked through various processes for hours at a time, but have not completely given up on the whole idea!
Zhoen and Molly; if you're on Facebook we could play Scrabble (if I am reconnected some time this year).
Frances: the box in the photo is a little tea-caddy, not the one made by my father. Perhaps I'll do another box themed post to show you!

Molly said...

I wondered where you'd vanished to and came here for reassurance that all was well.....Glad to hear it is just technical difficulties keeping you from us! Unfortunately I am one of the mulish hold outs on Facebook. I dislike being forced to join something, and more and more one is excluded if one does not join.......So, digging my heels in here, though if there is another way to play Scrabble I'm still game!

Mouse said...

My mother dealt with clutter by simply throwing everything away each time we moved house. Since that was, on average, once a year, we seldom had time to acquire even dust in each of our 'homes'

I'd quite like a cluttered house but it makes me nervous when the cupboards are full of things I can't recall or name, must be a childhood thing