Monday, 14 January 2008

Spring is just around the corner

We've been frantically working on the "office" this weekend, but when I went out to top up the bird feeder, I spotted these winter aconites in the garden. I'm not at all depressed about winter, but the sight of these little beauties just lifted my heart. Heh, any day now the swifts will arrive!

(For the benefit of my foreign reader, swifts arrive from Africa in early May and leave in late August, so the "screamers" represent summer to us.)

The office has gone really well, though we do seem to have been working on it for ages. Fully painted, new curtains and carpet, an extra ceiling light shining down on the desk and a couple of new bookshelves.

This weekend has consisted mostly of lugging stuff back in and trying to organise it sensibly. Just grouping the books rationally is time consuming, but the real time-sink is the filing cabinets. Decades ago we came by a four-drawer filing cabinet, into which all sorts of stuff was dumped. Bank statements, utility bills, receipts, you name it. Then about 5 years ago I was working for the Construction Industry Training Board near Kings Lynn, and spotted another four-drawer filing cabinet in a skip. After getting permission, I stuck it in the back of the car and took it home.

This was a mistake. Instead of being forced to rationalise what was in our existing cabinet, I'd simply doubled the amount of available space in which to stash away anything I felt remotely like not chucking out.

Now that we've decided to revert to a single filing cabinet, we're working our way through the whole lot, deciding what has to stay and what can go. It's not just that every piece of paper has to be examined, the real risk is that you come across something from years ago and get distracted into reading it, thinking about it, talking about it.

And since a certain amount of this stuff is going to be archived into boxes in the loft, the boxes need to be checked and rationalised as well. So far we've taken 5 black bin bags full of shredded paper to the recycling centre, and have made good progress on another 5. Yesterday I was shredding bank statements going back 35 years. Thirty-five years, god help us!

One thing that tells you is that Jenny and I are both hoarders. Living in a fair-sized house is bad news, too, since it doesn't put any pressure at all on us to throw stuff away. It's all too easy to stash it away "just in case".

And the photographs are worse. We have dozens of photograph albums, but stopped putting the photos into albums in about 2000. Not an active decision, it just fell out that way. Now we've got many dozen sets of prints, all unlabelled, just stacked in the office. Of course, these days everything we take is digital, so goes on the computer, but the last 5 years' worth of prints are just lurking in limbo. Pick up a set of prints, open it up, take a look at the top picture, "Oh, I'd forgotten about that", riffle slowly through the set. Do the prints have a date stamped on the back? "Jenny, that time we went to West Runton with Lorna and Richard, was that 2004 or 2005?" "Do you remember that restaurant we went to in Sherringham?" "And Lorna found that fossil sea urchin on the beach." And so the hours disappear!

5 comments:

But Why? said...

My word, you've been busy. Thanks for making time to notice the flowers - they are a cheery sight, particularly with the grotty, recent weather.

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Hi Rob, thanks for your visit - it's funny but when I was in Cambridge the sea seemed so far away - it felt very landlocked, despite the river.
You have been having a busy time - and the flowers are lovely. We lived overlooking the Botanical Gardens in Cambridge, and I always use to walk there at this time of year to see the signs of Spring - lovely. M xx

Rob Clack said...

We nearly dropped into Cambridge Botanical Gardens on Saturday when we went in to pick up the curtains, but stayed focussed, or we'd have lost the entire afternoon!

Last night I had a spare half an hour, so was sifting through old motorcycle repair bills, chucking out almost everything. Then came across the parts list for Jenny's old 500 when she ..er.. failed to negotiate a bend in Derbyshire. That made interesting reading, and then I ran out of time, of course!

DJ Kirkby said...

What a beautiful picture. Sorting the new office files sounds challenging. The reminicising sounds delightful and life enhancing but trying to chose what to discard and what to keep...

Rob Clack said...

After a lifetime of hoarding, I seem to have crossed a watershed and now I'm throwing almost everything away. Hope I don't regret it!