Things and stuff

Our house is full of stuff, almost bursting at the seams even though I do keep making pathetic attempts to recycle, clear, sort, dispose of things. When I was growing up, thinking back, our rooms were so empty in comparison. Now we live in a house with a very small hall, a sitting room, dining room, bit at the back for the washing machine and dish washer, downstairs loo, kitchen, and a sun lounge built on the back. The kitchen used to be the garage and the dining room was small with the kitchen then in half of it. We didn’t make these alterations – the people who lived here before did, and they converted the garage. Upstairs we have four bedrooms, one of which is very small and is now my writing room, and a bathroom.

When i was a child we lived in ground floor flat. The entrance was on the side and admitted visitors to a long L-shaped passage. At the far end was us girls bedroom, passing the separate bathroom and lavatory on the way there. Off the short part of the L was the kitchen and sitting room, and at the end was my parents bedroom. There were no fitted carpets, but there was a long red carpet down the middle of the hall, and a big square carpet in the sitting room which had about twelve inches of floor boards visible all round the edge. I can’t remember carpets in the bedrooms, maybe there were rugs. The bathroom, lavatory and kitchen had lino on the floor… and maybe the hall did too? I can’t properly remember.

In the bedrooms were beds, a wardrobe, a chest of drawers and a dressing table. In our bedroom we must have had shelves for books and toys, but I can’t really remember where or how they fitted. In the kitchen were two tall cupboards, one ‘cabinet’ a metal unit with drawers above cupboards, a gas cooker, a table, a sink with an Ascot boiler above, and later a small washing machine. The sitting room had a three piece suite, a sideboard, bookcases, a coal fire, a stand with a radio and maybe a low table.

I suppose every time I have moved house as an adult I have gathered more things. When my husband and i got married we each had a house full of furniture and possessions – we didn’t keep everything of course, but we did acquire extra as the two households came together. When my parents died I kept a lot of their books, cutlery, crockery, some furniture and all the other ‘stuff’ like photos and souvenirs. The same happened when my mother-in-law died. Then as the children became older they acquired possessions; they left home, and now one is back living with us for a while, the other is in a tiny flat so has stored stuff here.

I understand why we have so much, and understand why I’m reluctant to get rid of things – it’s the way we were brought up, not to waste anything, and keep things which “might come in useful”, but a time has to come when w e downsize – not just our accommodation but our possessions!

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