My struggle with things continues, and I feel as if I’m not making much progress. There was an article in the newspaper today, a weekly column, actually, offering advice on difficulties people have. Today it was all about not getting on with things, putting them off until an indefinite other time, procrastinating… I am such an expert at that, I find all sorts of displacement activities to occupy me rather than doing something which really ought to be done. Today my displacement activities instead of properly cleaning and tidying our house which is untidy and disorganised on an epic scale, were actually useful, and in a minute way, did in fact contribute to tidiness and organisation.

I won’t list all the things I should have done as a priority, the list would take until this time tomorrow to write, but things I did do, some of which may shock you because they’re the sort of things which should be done nearly every day, were sweeping the kitchen floor and what loosely could be called the utility area but what we call ‘out the back’, putting away the washed up dishes (I wash up several times a day but hate drying and putting away so the draining board becomes a mountain of clean crockery, cutlery, pots and pans, kitchen tools, etc.) and clearing the kitchen surfaces of crumbs (the Boggart takes special delight in sprinkling crumbs everywhere – I think he thinks I collect them as a hobby, so finds as many as he can and leaves them out for me.)

I then tackled the kitchen drawers, in particular the cutlery drawers. The top drawer has the everyday cutlery and necessary items such as the corkscrew, the second drawer has old cutlery, kitchen knives and items such as tin openers, the third drawer has random tools and things like the meat thermometer, and the bottom drawer has grease-proof paper, tin foil, and random items which have no other home. The drawer which needed most attention was the second drawer down; somehow we have acquired a number of carving and kitchen knives; some we inherited from our parents’ houses, some from the stuff our kids brought back from Uni, some seemed just to have arrived, and some were gifts. I was ruthless, I kept the knives we use the most, and others which are useful occasionally and put aside those which need to go (what do you do with unwanted knives? I can’t see a charity shop taking them!) Then there was the random stainless steel cutlery which arrived from somewhere, probably the kids Uni stuff again, and all of them went. So far so easy…

But then the hard part, the cutlery from my childhood. What was easy was a set of steak knives and forks which my mum had got by collecting tokens – I think from cereal packets. They have wooden handles, made of stainless steel which really is stainless and the knives are as sharp as the day we got them and the forks are really pointy so they actually go into food so it doesn’t fall off on the way to your mouth. They went back into the drawer, but what about the old knives, spoons and forks I used as a child, the knives are the sort with yellowing bone handles (I guess they’re bone, maybe they are an early form of plastic) the spoons and forks are weighty, not lightweight and flyaway like modern cheapo stuff. I confess, I couldn’t get rid of them, I just couldn’t, so back into the drawer they went.

Then there were the serving spoons. The big heavy, spoon-shaped spoons with a bowl which contains food, not a flat thing where everything falls off and are hopeless for anything with gravy – or stewed fruit. As I looked at them I remembered all those meals at home, with food served in dishes with the spoons stuck in so we served ourselves the amount we wanted, the everyday meals, the special meals, the Christmases, I remembered the family round the table, just the four of us, sometimes with friends and family, sometimes with foreign scientists working for a while with my dad at his lab… I don’t need a spoon to remember those times, but somehow feeling the weight of them, the useful shape of them, the memories of washing them up after meals at home, it was very difficult to remember that we don’t need them, rarely use them.

There were two which had the initial M on them; these may have come from my mum’s family, the Matthews. I have kept those two, the rest are going with all the other unwanted cutlery to the charity shop, which probably won’t want them as they must be inundated with similar items. I guess there will come a time when all the contents of the drawers will go to the charity shop, unless the kids think ‘oh, I remember using these when I was a child, I remember laying the table for Christmas dinner, I remember…’



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