Personal Archaeology

It’s been a strange four days. We’ve been clearing the loft. It’s a big loft, but over the 22 years we’ve lived here, the available walking space had diminished to less than a square foot. Something had to be done, and we had to take time off work to do it.

I’ve learned ruthlessness and the limits of ruthlessness. A ridiculous number of duplicated items have been found – we have about three times as many duvets as beds – and some old friends have been recovered, like collections of comics and magazines and a defunct guitar and bass. We’ve been trying to live the declutter maxim: have you used it in the last year? would it bring beauty or happiness into your life if you kept it? would it cost a lot to replace it if you needed one? Two ‘nos’ out of three and it goes. Sentiment has little place in this process with a few exceptions.  Some of  Madame’s  childhood books (including ‘Little Black Sambo’!) and I’ve brought down a box of diaries going back to 1975.

It’s been strange reacquainting myself with the character – or characters – who wrote those pages. And I may have reached the limits of my ruthlessness with the diaries. There’s a saying that the only thing you really have of your own in your life is your story. And this is mine, unedifying though it may be most of the time. And it’s strange to recognise that the only person who’ll ever read or know this story is me. Even if anyone else were interested I’ve got better things to do than type up these self-obsessed pages. But at the same time, I realise that I’ve seen and done a fair bit, met a lot of people, and had some interesting and unusual relationships. There’s a life in this box of books. I find myself wishing I could converse with the guy who wrote them. How would he react to what I’d tell him?

(The strip of photos fell out of a bag. I think it must have been about 1988 or so.)

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