In the Transit household, as in most others, there are differences of opinion between DH and myself on many subjects – in this case, as to the value of keeping things. Not to put too fine a point on it, DH is an inveterate hoarder, an almost indiscriminate keeper of “stuff that might come in useful one day”.
I, on the other hand, am simply a discriminating guardian of things worth preserving. At the same time, I’m a mainstay of the local charity shops, that is, if I can manage to sneak the bags out to the car, without DH catching me in the act.
But even when I’m in my most fervent house-clearing mode, there are some categories of object at which I draw the line. Books, for instance, unless they are library books, only ever come into the house, never out again. I think I must be almost constitutionally incapable of throwing a book away. After all, books make excellent insulation.
Given my passion for making preserves, I will admit also to finding it hard to throw jam-jars away, but of course I really do need those, don’t I?
And then there are the souvenirs…. Whether it’s a postcard in childish handwriting from a long-ago holiday with grandparents, or a vase that belonged to my mother, and possibly to her mother before her, if it has sentimental value to me, it’s worth keeping and I’ll leave the throwing-away to those who come after me. However, occasionally I do look at something and wonder whether one can take sentimental attachment too far.
The example that comes to mind lives in the cupboard under the sink. It’s a smallish, white, plastic tub, with a cracked and mended pale-blue lid, and long ago it bore a label proclaiming that inside was the then new and magic powder known as Napisan. Today it holds dishwasher powder and I handle it every day. To be honest, it is barely fit for purpose, but I simply can’t bring myself to stop using it and throw it away.
Over forty-two years ago, when DS was born, I was plunged into a new and exhausting world of terry nappies and endless washing, with no washing machine to lighten the load. The height of technological innovation in our kitchen was the gleaming new spin-dryer which DH’s parents kindly gave us for our first Christmas in our new home. But I had one great advantage over my mother at the same stage – I had Napisan. Instead of having to boil all the baby’s things, I could simply soak them in this wonderful solution and hey presto – white again!
The nappies went for cleaning rags decades ago, and the baby who wore them now has a rapidly-growing son of his own, but as long as I can pick up that battered tub and take off its mended lid, I have a concrete link to those far-off days. With the tub in my hand my mind fills with memories of babyhood and a lot of hard work and happiness, when I was young and thin, and my first baby wore hand-knitted leggings and his nappies were soaked in Napisan.
I’m such a sentimental old fool – or am I?