I AM awaiting delivery of a new computer monitor. This is an exciting event, honestly, since the ancient one I am peering at is far too small and, like other things that reach a certain age, it has developed eccentric habits that are hard to live with.
So a new one is on its way and it’s going to be big. This means it will require more space than the old one which in turn means I must de-clutter my desk to accommodate it.
Each time super-tidy Geoff looks into my eyes and reminds me of this and points at the heaps I go shaky and whimper a bit. As the state of Hill Towers testifies, I hate throwing anything out.
I know William Morris said we should have nothing in our homes that we do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful, and I couldn’t agree more.
I fix Geoff with a firm look and repeat this to him, explaining that I could classify all my clutter in one or other of those categories. Why, the old iPhone that I dropped into a basin of water may one day come back to life and be really useful, so I ought to keep it right here, slightly in the way, close enough for me to hear if it should start spluttering and gasping for breath.
Also in the way are a pebble covered in strands of felt (I know, you would have thought life was a bit short) that a friend of my daughter’s gave me in 2002, four empty glasses cases, two pairs of glasses circa 1999, something that looks like desiccated rabbit droppings but is in fact an ancient sprig of mimosa from Italy, a packet of passport photos of someone who looks certifiable and might be me, a bottle of glue, a brooch, three and a half blunt pencils, a wooden light pull, a nail file, four drink mats, a 40-page booklet of instructions in 10 languages that came with my now not-so-new cycle helmet, two notebooks, several plugs and leads, diaries for this year and the previous two years, three notebooks, two Christmas tree light bulbs, a slew of out-of-date plastic membership cards that might come in handy for scraping ice off the car windscreen if I should ever remember I have them and a large pair of headphones for Skype conversations.
If only the collection of clutter really did only consist of those items. In fact they form just the top layer. Underneath are piles of letters, sheets of paper, notes, postcards, old invitations – ephemera that I’d readily agree with William Morris is not beautiful but could be classed as useful because it might be needed for reference.
Geoff points to an old key and asks why I’m keeping it if we don’t know what it fits or even where it came from. As I explain that it would be unwise to throw away a key because you never know how useful it could be, I suddenly notice that it’s sitting on a pocket magnifying glass that I’ve been trying to find for ages.
This is one of the problems of clutter. Things sort of blend into their setting so I become oblivious to them.
I ought to stop writing now because this has really only been displacement activity to delay the inevitable.
Before I roll up my sleeves I wonder if I dare tell Geoff that I might just keep the new monitor in its box. It would save such a lot of bother and my useful, beautiful heaps could remain intact.