Treasures & Trash


The last couple of months have seen me undertake a much needed major declutter. Having trawled through over forty years of paraphernalia and memories, I am left with an empty loft, a garage that can now accommodate my car, and a house that, unburdened from the weight of unnecessary possessions, must have risen at least six inches from the ground. The process has been cathartic, emotional and intriguing, as I uncovered long forgotten keepsakes and boxes unopened017 for over two decades.

From ticket stubs, programmes and letters to old diaries, drawings and school books, there is a well-documented record of every aspect of my life; the result of inheriting the hoarding gene from my dad. Whilst documentation forms a large part of this squirrelling behaviour, such tendencies are not limited to paperwork, as proven by these embroidered coasters I made in primary school. Set in rural Kent, and with enrolment never exceeding 70 pupils, the school boasted a broad education, including ‘handwork’ lessons on a Friday afternoon. When the weather permitted, we took these lessons outside, and I can clearly remember sewing these whilst sat under a tree, on a warm, sunny day. Idyllic.

While I have uncovered plenty of reminders of wonderful memories, there have been some tinged with sadness, such as birthday cards from those no longer with us. Then, there were items that made me question why I had kept them for so long. Some, like the theatre programmes for shows of which I have no recollection, had followed me through four house moves, yet meant nothing to me at all. Others were just downright weird, such as the plaster cast from when I broke my wrist in 1990. Needless to say, anything falling into these two categories went straight into the bin.

Those mementoes that have survived the cull (and believe me, I was ruthless) are now neatly packed away in three medium-sized boxes, which, for me, is nothing short of a miracle. However, one of the advantages of having stockpiled a lifetime is finding hidden gems amongst the detritus, some of which I will be sharing here over the next few weeks. I hope you’ll share some of your treasures from the past too.


One thought on “Treasures & Trash

  1. Matthew

    I think 40s is the right age to be doing such a clear out as well, because we’re old enough to appreciate what is important about our past. I did a lot of clearing out in my 20s and 30s and at that age, to be honest, the past doesn’t feel very important – we haven’t developed a sense of what might eventually be nostalgic. So I threw out a lot of stuff without thinking back then, things I now really wish I’d hung on to. My old stuff would barely fill one of your boxes, I wish I had 3 boxes worth!

    I had a 1979 Diary – 9 to 10 years old when I had it – that was more detailed than the tiny 80s ones I kept, and I can see myself – in my 20s I think – ripping it up and putting it on the pile of rubbish because it took up too much space. I seriously can’t believe I did that! I remember I wrote about my first ever trip to London, I’d love to know what I put, I’d now find it endearing, but 20s me just found it embarrassing, whatever it was. Also, 70s and 80s football magazines and programmes – I feel nostalgic when I see covers reproduced on Twitter, knowing I had the very copies but got rid without thinking.

    Only thing I don’t regret getting rid – vinyl records. They’re a space killer they are. Lots of people hang on to them for decades and fair enough if they have an attachment, but for me it’s the music on them that’s important, not the method of playing it or the sleeve it came in.

    There’s nothing I didn’t have in the 80s that I don’t have now in digital format, even if it was the copies of singles I made onto Mini Disc (ha, mini disc! and since copied themselves into mp3s), before I did the big vinyl sale 10 or so years ago. I’m one of the few of our generation with no particular romantic attachment to vinyl at all – I usually only wanted to buy a record if it didn’t get into the charts (so couldn’t tape it off the Top 40), and once I had it, I wanted to get it onto tape ASAP. When the stereo wasn’t yours and time on it had to be ‘booked’ in advance, vinyl was the most inconvenient format for music possible!

    Tapes though… I had possibly hundreds. Many with classic 80s DJ patter, old radio jingles, news broadcasts, chart rundowns, virtually all northern local stations versions of the ‘Number One’ jingle – all the stuff that the internet laps up these days. And nearly all gone. Just a few snatches digitised before I decided I ‘couldn’t be bothered’, and now most of it lost for good, chucked years ago without thought. That makes me very sad indeed 😦

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