I had a bit of clear out this weekend, which is something I try to do on a regular basis. What usually happens though is that I sort stuff out to go to the charity shop, it sits in a bin bag for a couple of weeks, then I look at it again and put half the items back as I decide that, really, I will start wearing my maroon crushed velvet skirt c.1997, and big sloppy checked shirts inherited from my brother will come in handy for painting clothes.
(Clothes to wear when painting, I mean, not clothes that can be decorated. That would be a little strange. Although I did go through a phase in the ’90s where I used to visit art shops and have grand plans to buy those fabric paints that puffed up – you know the ones? – so I could make my own fabulous and unique clothes. It never happened, mostly because I was 13 and had no real artistic talent.)
I can’t help it, I come from a family of hoarders – my grandad, my aunt. Plus my mother had a childhood where everything she cared about ended up being given to her younger cousin when it was deemed she was too old for it, so when we were growing up, she never insisted that we got rid of things if we really wanted to keep them. Put these elements together and I never stood a chance of being a minimalist person. When S and I moved in together, he nearly had a heart attack when he saw the van (with a tail lift!) that my parents had hired to transport my things down. When my stuff was in it, it was full to the rafters. When he used it later on to move his possessions, they filled the back quarter. I was reminded of this when we watched the episode of Gavin and Stacey where they brought Stacey’s stuff to Essex in Nessa’s lorry. I sympathised with her – I didn’t even get rid of a foot spa.
I have since got better, since it’s not fair to S to take over our house with my junk, but I find it hard as my possessions document my life. I’m a firm believer that things used everyday should be as attractive as possible, especially things such as planners or bags. Which got me to thinking, as I tried to decide whether or not I needed five nearly-identical blue t-shirts, about the little things in life that make us happy. Those items that we use, or wear, or look at every day, that are our favourites, and that make us smile. The things that, if we were absolutely forced to throw away everything else (at gunpoint, in my case), we would hang onto.
So here is my Celebration of Everyday Things…
The ring with the blue panel was given to me by S for Christmas 07, and I’ve worn it every day since then.
The ring with the stone was one I bought in my final year of university. I had just had my heart completely mashed by a boy, who then decided to rub a little salt and cayenne pepper into it by asking out one of my best friends. I can look back now at the whole episode and smile, with a wise and benign tilt of the head about the naivety of youth, but at the time I was destroyed. I saw the ring when out shopping one day and got it to cheer myself up. I called it my Memento Amori – my god, you can tell I was an English student, can’t you? I’d clearly been reading far too much Hamlet and imagining myself as a blighted Gothic heroine. Anyway, every time I felt bad – an average of once per minute, I seem to recall – I would look at the ring and remember that things would get better. And they did. I met S a few months later… and the rest is history.
My sunglasses holder, which is fuschia pink, with gold embroidery and sequins, actually started out life as a mobile phone case, although why you’d want to keep your phone in something like this, I’m not too sure. Even though there’s no photo to show it, imagine a case that has been decorated by the House of Liberace, and you’ll get the idea. The fact that it fits my (rather large, as fashion now dictates) sunglasses shows how small phones have now become, in a very short space of time – my current Nokia is completely lost in it. It is rather lavishly patterned and incredibly over the top, but I love it for that, and the extra touch of glamour it brings to the act of wearing sunglasses.
Bought at random from a factory outlet shop, I fell in love with the picture on this bowl as it reminds me of a cat that we looked after for six months. Despite her addiction to tuna and dubious hygiene practices (she was known in my office as “that daggy arsed cat”), we loved her, and were incredibly sad when her owners spirited her away one day without letting us say goodbye.
S and I discovered when we first moved in together that people bought us presents, which was a surprise but a not unwelcome one. (If we’d realised this, we might have done it sooner.) This mug had a Bristol-blue coloured twin, but it met its end on our flagstoned floor after a year or so. I always used them to serve coffee – which I brewed in a proper cafetiere! – when people came round to the flat, which seemed like the height of sophistication at the time. I’m not sure why matched yet quirky chinaware screamed grown up to me, but it did.
I’ve mentioned it before, but this cord jacket is one of my favourite items of clothing and I get really excited when winter is over and it can re-emerge from my wardrobe. I bought it a few years’ ago for a friends’ wedding (they got married here in November, so it was a bit nippy) and have pretty much worn it to death (seasons permitting) since. The brooch was a Christmas present from my brother – I love the marquesite patterning on its wings.
In the pink corner… This scarf was a present from my German friend B who has excellent taste when it comes to accessories. I am a sucker for anything with sequins and beads, so it was bound to be a hit.
Then there are these shoes. Totally impractical, and only worn about twice as it’s really hard to co-ordinate clothes with them, but so pretty! Also a bargain as they cost £10 from a shop in Cardiff.
Finally, I have a thing about bears – probably due to living in Canada for a bit – so when I saw this hoodie featured a bear, I had to get it. It always draws comments from people, and it makes me smile when I wear it – so it wins on all counts.
I’m sure if my house was on fire, and I was forced to grab only a few, important things, sensibleness would prevail and I would probably take the filing box that contains my passport and tax documents, rather than worrying about a ring or a hoodie. But we definitely need things like this to brighten up our day.