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Thursday, 8 September 2011


While we were in England I made my mum watch a programme called My Hoarder Mum and Me which took a TV presenter, Jasmin Harman and her mum on a journey or an attempt to get rid of the stuff that clutters up her home, the mother that is. Her mother was quite extreme and had to sometimes sleep on whatever space she could find on the floor. I wonder how many people suffer from what can appear to be a  mental disease and seems to affect loads of people in Britain including my mum and is something I have to seriously keep an eye on. I have always felt it was a fear of letting go, of leaving the past behind where it often, if not always, belongs. My problem is with bits if paper and not writing stuff down in notebooks enough. Henderson calls my mum's house 'the house with the stuff around the edges' and everywhere you look there is stuff from the past she can not or won't throw away. Jasmin Harman's mother couldn't bear to throw away a load of Sindy and Action Man dolls away. Her son threw them on the table and said of their intertwined bodies, ' they look like an orgy!'. With my mum it is our old school books, Christmas cards, stuff that may come in handy one day but generally over forty year's of 'stuff' accumulated and an unbearable feeling of loss if anyone tries to interfere and throw 'her stuff' away.  Hoarding, especially the extreme kind, is not recognised as a mental illness but I think in extreme cases it is. I can never remember a time having a cup of tea with my mum and not having to share the sofa with hundreds of books, magazines, unopened mail and beside me anything from a plastic vegetable rack full of scourers, brushes, bits of twine and other things that won't be thrown away because they are bound to be needed a few days later. It is a trait I have inherited and have battled with and I am sure it has also got to do with a range of things including the Second World War and all its impact on people when they had nothing and had to salvage and make do with what they could find, and maybe superstition, the idea that if you throw away something useless or broken but sentimental, then something awful might happen or you might need it at a later date and the idea of not having it around is too much for some people including Harman's mum and mine. Harman's mother got too distressed if asked why she would need bits of cable she found in the street. I suppose a certain amount of control is involved. When people are asked what they need with the rubbish that surrounds them get annoyed and upset that you are asking and it gets worse if you suggest they get rid of it.

Still on this subject, a friend on Facebook mentioned the most useless thing they owned was an antique monocle which set people off, writing in their useless 'stuff' they can't or won't throw away. Mine included a beautiful pair of Charles Jourdan high heels that I can get my left foot in but not my right. I added that I might just wear the left shoe and don a  slipper on the right. Other useless things include a Biba coat that makes me look like Fagin and a set of forks from the one euro shop which bend when I eat mashed potato. I think I may have thrown the forks away but not after keeping them for a while just to demonstrate to friends the uselessness these shops. I am also haunted by another pair of shoes that have a snow globe of the Eiffel Tower in the heel. This is the sort of madness I left behind in England but for some reason have kept the evidence under my bed just to remind me of where I came from. Nowadays I buy shoes that I wear till they fall apart. women are often obsessed with shoes and there is no denying a beautiful shoe but perhaps that is what they should remain, a beautiful thing to be looked at, not worn. The heel height of women's shoes in Britain is ridiculous and vary rarely seen here. I am talking the type of bondage shoe favoured by Mrs Beckham who will probably be a cripple by the time she is forty.


Mike the Traditionalist said...

As a radio amateur I noted your observation about hoarding is quite correct. I tend to keep bits of wire, screws, plugs and sockets and some will probably never be used. BUT the day you throw it out you will find you need sometime later. So that is the problem and I guess with some people it gets to extremes where they hoard anything they get their hands on.

ANA said...

Yes, I think it is known as 'Sod's Law'!!