Have nothing in your house that you do not
know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
I may have mentioned that one of my New Year Resolutions is to 'de-clutter'. This is the trendy word for getting rid of the accumulated stuff that is blocking cupboards, wardrobes, sheds and garages in the homes of the middle classes in this Capitalist, over-consuming society. And of course it has become trendy to 'de-clutter' with whole TV programmes, web-sites, businesses, media articles and too much more dedicated to the subject. If you don't believe me, google!
I've even bought a book about de-cluttering - Living More With Less, by James Wallman . In true devotee style I have had the book delivered to my kindle rather than clutter up my [almost] decluttered bookshelves....
Bear with me. This is not going to be another one of those 'clear your living space and clear your mind and soul' polemics. In fact it will probably turn into one of those Elizannie rants when I wonder how society has come to this pass?
One may have various reasons for de-cluttering. Mine, apart from a desire to see the floor of my wardrobe[s] and the backwall of my bookshelves is the impending incoming of more family members, the smallest one of whom will take up more space per capita than his grandmother. Others of my age may be [using the modern parlance] 'downsizing' - we used to say moving somewhere smaller.
Don't expect to make a fortune from things kept so long that 'they must be worth something'. Checking online, beautiful books are only fetching a penny thanks to mass cheap publishing and e-publishing; wedding present linen is scorned as it won't tumble dry and needs ironing; ditto crockery and cutlery, even those still in their boxes are not fetching a lot but always quote the 'marque' - and nobody seems to use fish knives and forks anymore!; dark brown furniture is definitely 'out'. 'Vintage' is in, but beware, it has to be the right vintage. However, my handbag obsession has paid me back reasonably well, but good photos seem to help and if you have a handy professional photographer on hand for anything for sale it does seem to help!
Consumer society will love, nay encourage us in de-cluttering. New businesses have set up to do it for us if we can't quite get the hang of it. We can be sold clever books about it and then when we have done it and decided we can't just manage with 100 items - or whatever the latest buzz is - we will re-buy everything of which we have faithfully [in the true sense of the word] disposed. Hopefully ecologically by selling or recycling or in an approved fashion, by donating our 'clutter' to those less fortunate who would love to have enough possessions to think of de-cluttering. It will probably become our patriotic duty to de-clutter, then re-clutter to kick start the economy and beat the austerity. Win win.......
Of course there are many who will be superior to those of us trying to jump on the de-cluttering lifestyle. Those minimalists who have been around since the 60s for instance. I tried to be one but as soon as children arrived and I started shelving all those lovely little keepsakes like first teeth, first curls, first pictures, first paintings I lapsed to my hippy roots of carrying my world with me. And then other considerations collide: as a historian, should the wedding album survive the marriage parting for the sake of future generations? And that despised-when-it-sat-on-great-Nan's-mantelpiece ornament, but which she really loved and now I love for her sake piece - how can that ever be de-cluttered?
Telling a friend about this blog, apparently Janet Street-Porter got there first in the Daily Fail, which I wouldn't have known as the paper is not on my reading list. But I like JSP and the internet is a wonderful tool so if you would like to share her thoughts please do so here. She seems to agree with me that de-cluttering is probably better in thought than in deed.
But I would wholly recommend decluttering the mind. Much easier said than done, I find. And especially important with the General Election on the horizon and getting closer every day. Decide what is worth worrying about, what one can change and what one can do. In life, emotions and politics probably the best clutter we can deal with, one day at a time. The quote at the top of the blog from William Morris can equally well apply to Houses, Souls and Minds.