When de-cluttering is a lofty ideal

MY mind was on higher things as I read an article in a national newspaper - about 10 feet above my head, in fact, as I lay in bed.

What puzzled me was how the writer knew what I had in my loft.

A list was unnervingly accurate. It began with old clothing, shoes and accessories and was followed by photos, frames and holiday souvenirs, old school and university work, toys and games, newspapers, magazines and books, sports equipment, home accessories, furniture, electrical goods, computers and audio gear, and, finally, musical instruments.

I mentally ticked off every item as I went through it. They are all up there. Then I realised that this was not just the content of my loft, but also of thousands of others like it in the country.

It seems that, as well as us parents being the bank of mum and dad, we have also become the warehouse of mum and dad where are deposited the goods which our grown-up off-spring simply cannot bring themselves to throw away but have nowhere to keep in their modern, incredibly small homes.

As they fly the nest, they shove their clutter into the family loft. A survey has revealed that parents are now looking after �2.4b worth of their adult kids’ property.

I must admit that, in my case, the stuff going up there joined other items which were already gathering dust from my own earlier years.

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Yes, I have been reluctant to throw it away, just like the kids. A closer look proves to be embarrassing. There are old cardboard boxes put there just in case the goods they contained went wrong and needed to be returned – but the warranties ran out years ago.

Tucked in a corner are some panels from a dismantled wardrobe “which may come in useful some day for making shelves” but they will never serve that purpose.

Close by is an old 386 computer which used to be the bee’s knees but is now a useless dinosaur. And there is more, much more.

I’ll have to get it all cleared out one day, but maybe not just yet. Some of it could still come in handy.

Being a clutter collector, on visits to the local household waste disposal site my eye is often caught by the perfectly sound goods thrown away by people. How could they possibly think that what they are chucking is rubbish, I wonder.

It used to be that everything taken to these sites ended up in the skip but in recent years the recycling ethos has come to the fore. The operatives could be seen squirreling away tasty and valuable items, no doubt to sell on.

Now the powers-that-be have cottoned on to this potentially lucrative trade.

Herts County Council has just announced that it is to open a second hand shop where good quality, unwanted items that have been taken to recycling centres around the county will be on sale.

I can hardly wait to go along and see what is on offer.