On a rainy bank holiday Monday, leisure activities are limited.
So after a busy weekend of work, which saw my seven year-old bribed with sweets and largely ignored, I thought we’d do some baking together.
(I say baking, but what I actually mean is stirring. A fridge cake is as about as much as I can manage.)
That’s when the food supply shortage headlines hit home. My supermarket delivery company of choice didn’t have any golden syrup.
Mercifully, the wine and crisps were still there. If the lights go out at least I’ve got all the main food groups covered.
So, what to do with a small child who is demanding a pyjama day but has already had far too much screen time over the holiday weekend?
We had to move to plan B. Our next favourite shared activity.
Something that reminds me that, although we look nothing alike, she is definitely my daughter.
We would have a declutter day!
Prone as I am to whims and intense notions, de-cluttering has become my thing this year. I can’t get enough of it.
Though I should probably explain what I mean.
The Big Autumn Declutter has begun in earnest 💃🏻
— Kirsty Strickland (@KirstyStricklan) September 20, 2021
This is categorically NOT tidying-up or striving for a show home.
My house is not beige and dust-free.
My method of decluttering involves getting rid of as much stuff as possible, so that I don’t NEED to tidy-up.
It’s best done behind closed doors
I embarked upon a big declutter at the start of the year.
Though that probably undersells it a bit.
One day, when I was right in the thick of it, one of my friends popped round.
He’s older than me and from that generation where “popping round’’ unannounced is a normal thing to do and not the terrifying ordeal that it is for us millennials.
The hall was absolute carnage. Fine for a nimble-footed wee Fifer to navigate, less so for a great muckle Glaswegian in Dr Martens
So, there’s me thinking I’m opening the door to somebody safe, like the Amazon guy delivering more industrial-strength black sacks.
Instead it’s my dear friend: there to witness the depths of my obsession.
The hall was absolute carnage.
Fine for a nimble-footed wee Fifer to navigate, less so for a great muckle Glaswegian in Dr Martens
I hastily assured him this was all part of the process.
You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.
And you can’t declutter your house without turning it into a crime scene first.
How do I declutter without clutter?
Back to the rainy bank holiday Monday and my declutter plans had hit a roadblock: I’ve run out of clutter.
I sold an empty iPhone box, a pair of ugly shoes and a dusty pack of tiny batteries on Ebay last week.
I used charm and shameless flirting to convince the woman in the charity shop to accept my two bags of book donations, rather than the one that is permitted, as per the handwritten warning on the door.
I’ve even got a lad from Gumtree coming to buy a barbell and weights set than I bought during another whim but can’t lift without sustaining an injury.
There’s nothing left.
But I knew a place where there might be some stuff that I could send off to pastures new.
We live in an old tenement building. Each of the four flats has its own cavernous cellar.
Down the steps we trudged, still in our pyjamas.
My daughter was in charge of the torch, I was in charge of the safety recon.
Each of the old red doors that lead into our cellars represented opportunity.
The only time I’ve been in ours was when I was trying to find out where the gang of wasps that had infiltrated my house was coming from.
Slim pickings call for desperate measures
Inside our cellar, we came across our first piece of treasure. A Christmas tree, no less.
I got rid of our usual Christmas tree during Declutter 1, so this must be an oldie.
Gumtree will be delighted.
Slightly disappointed at the emptiness of our cave, we moved on to the next.
This involved what the feds would technically deem breaking and entering. But our neighbours are like family.
I’m sure, if I had waited for them to wake up, they would have told me that their junk is my junk.
My seven year old didn’t want to wait.
It’s #RecyclingWeek 🥳 And if saving the planet wasn’t motivation enough, here are the average selling prices of common household items on Gumtree 🤑 *Based on average price calculation from 14 Gumtree live listings in August 2021. pic.twitter.com/ckLflNgFBS
— Gumtree (@Gumtree) September 20, 2021
She wanted to see what was inside, so we jimmied the ageing unlocked lock and peeked inside.
This one was much better.
There was an eerie old painting that was probably smuggled into Scotland after an audacious art-heist.
It also contained every treasure-hunter’s fantasy: a dusty old chest.
To prolong the mystery, I told my daughter that morally, it’s probably wrong to open another man’s treasure chest without asking.
When my upstairs neighbour rises for the day, I’ll get him to show us what’s inside.
And then I’ll ask him, very sweetly, if he’ll indulge my de-cluttering obsession and give me permission to get started on his cellar.