Wednesday, 24 March 2010


I seriously need to de-clutter my house. I have now filled every available shelf/cupboard/cubby hole and there is simply no more room for anything else. Everyone who knows me will tell you I am the Queen of organising. "A space for everything and everything in its space" has always been my motto. Sometimes it amazes me just how much I have managed to cram into this tiny box I call home.
I read an article the other day that said British people's clutter adds up to an estimated worth of £31 billion. That's just stuff we never use. I know most people would have been shocked to learn this but I wasn't. In fact I did wonder if I might be contributing to at least a couple of billion of those pounds with the stuff that lies unused and untouched in my under-the-stairs cupboard. I lovingly refer to that 8 foot by 3 foot rectangle as "no man's land" ("An area of land that no-one wishes to move into or take control of for fear of being attacked" - in my case by a precariously balanced stack of toilet rolls or a particularly vicious ironing board). There have been times when I've desperately needed something at the back of that dark and frightening place but have taken one look at the obstacle course I would need to negotiate in order to get there and just closed the door with a heavy sigh. I know I need to tackle the problem but I hate chucking things out. I've done it before and almost always regretted it. I do have the occasional ruthless splurge where I feel liberated by throwing things onto the charity/rubbish pile. "If you don't use it or don't like it then chuck it!" is the mantra during those times. But inevitably, a few months down the line I'll find myself cursing under my breath that I gave that certain something away.
My loft is a veritable banquet of guff. There's no other way to describe it. It bulges at the seams. Having to clear it out is a job that fills me with dread not least because I cannot even get into the attic. There is not one single inch of floor space on which to stand. My attic reminds me of one of those puzzles I used to play with as a child. The one where you had to move the squares around to make a picture. I would have to move all the things around the loft hatch (broken lamps, old baby clothes, three legged chairs, an ancient typewriter) just to get up there. It seems like such an overwhelming task, and one I simply could not contemplate doing on my own. There is very little truth in the saying "out of sight, out of mind" when it comes to my loft. I lie awake at night in a cold sweat thinking about the day I'll have to tackle it.
My kitchen cupboards are a plethora of unused appliances that at some point I must have thought I wouldn't be able to function without. A yogurt maker (what a hassle that was!), two juicers (which take around 40 oranges and an hour to clean just to get one tiny glass of juice), a popcorn maker (fun to watch the truckload of puffed up corn spewing out the hole but it tastes like pieces of polystyrene which could in no way compete with M&S butter toffee bites), a George Foreman grill (which I bought during one of my short-lived health kicks and is a real faff to clean), three Thermos flasks (!), a Soda Stream fizzy juice maker...the list is endless. I haven't used any of these appliances for years and yet I cannot bring myself to part with them.
In Feng Shui the main entrance to the house is called the "Mouth of Chi" because it has the strongest influence on how energy flows into your home. "Your home cannot benefit from fresh, vital Chi if the front door is blocked". Mmm. I wonder if Chi has worked out a way to get past two pairs of muddy wellies, three pairs of smelly trainers, a broken brolly, a spade (which has been there since the snow forced me to dig myself out of my parking space every morning) and enough coats and cagoules to start a clothes stall. Since Junior came into my life I don't think I have been able to open the front door all the way. It used to be pushchairs and car seats blocking the way, now it's school bags, football trainers and a Spiderman ball (that somehow I always forget is there until I have fallen over). According to Feng Shui, "opening the front door more widely and frequently is a good way to breathe life into a less-than-exciting romantic life". Oh well, that explains quite a lot then...
Having a small house gets on my nerves beyond description. I hate having to manoeuvre my rather ample bottom around things to get washing into the tumble dryer/step over hamster cages to get in and out the back door/tiptoe through the mine-field that is Junior's bedroom floor in order to put clothes away/crawl over the bed just to get to the wardrobe. But I often wonder if having a bigger house would solve the problem or simply result in me filling every available space with even more clutter! Oh, to have a minimalistic living room. Nothing gathering dust, no obstacles to make my journey from the settee to the kitchen fraught with danger.
Getting rid of clutter feels great. I think I'll go and make a start on no man's land. To quote Captain Oates, "I may be some time"!!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Quote for today

"As long as the world is turning and spinning, we're gonna be dizzy and we're gonna make mistakes"

Mel Brooks

Monday, 1 March 2010

The tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth

“In this pocket you will find,
A teensy, tiny tooth of mine.
So while I sleep where dreams are made,
Let’s see if you can make a trade”
Author Unknown.

Well, it’s the first day of March and I have spent the last couple of hours running around like a mad march Hare! When I picked Junior up from Monday Club this afternoon he smiled up at me and I just about fell over. He resembled a miniature Shane McGowan (pre fancy new veneers).
One of Junior’s top front teeth fell out on Saturday morning. It felt like such a big deal; another step towards adulthood. It had been dangling by a thread and we tried everything from crunchy apples to wrapping it in tissue and yanking it. But for the entire Friday night he looked like Nanny McPhee. I was slightly concerned that it might fall out during the night but tried to reassure myself that for as long as there has been little boys and girls there have been wobbly teeth and as far as I know nothing awful has ever happened. At 6am the following day I heard him fiddling around with it and then there was this sickening sound like an elastic band snapping followed by a delighted shriek as he waved a blood-stained tooth in front of my face.
The tooth fairy wrote him a lovely letter and left it under his pillow in an envelope filled with fairy dust and a note attached saying “time delivered 2.30” (see what I did there? 2.30/tooth hurty) Two shiny pound coins were tucked inside - I hear that’s the going rate these days. It was 10p when I was little but that’s inflation for you.
Anyway, I wasn’t expecting to have to do it all again so soon, hence my shock when I saw another gap in Junior’s mouth this afternoon. My first thought was “Oh no, I don’t have a single penny on me, I’m going to have to go to a cashpoint” which was a real pain because the traffic was already building up and I had just polished off a massive mug of tea (a deadly combination if ever there was one). Junior spent the whole way home in the car planning what he was going to buy with his fairy money and I had to gently explain that the tooth fairy might be a bit skint after a busy weekend. But he wasn’t buying it.
“The tooth fairy is magic mummy..” he said with a patronising tilt of the head, “..she can get money from anywhere
The first cashpoint was at the petrol station round the corner from my house. There was a queue to get in so imagine my frustration when I eventually made it only to find a sign up saying “Out of Order”. Back in the car and off to the shopping centre, a frustrating 15 minute drive back the way I had just come. I put in my card and it spat it straight back out at me. Apparently I had 'insufficient funds' to cover the £2 needed to cover the cost of one shiny white incisor, lovingly wrapped in a paper towel by Babs at the Monday Club. Tooth fairies might be able to get money from anywhere but it would appear that stressed out mummies (with very full bladders) can’t!
I racked my brains to think where I could get the money for a very excited Junior. He was not going to buy my stories - "The tooth fairy has a sore wing and can only carry a 5 pence piece this time"/"the tooth fairy gave your money to the poor children"/"the tooth fairy is really poorly and has promised to being you £2 when she’s feeling better" - He’s six, he ain’t stupid!
Back home there was a frantic (but fruitless) check inside the settee and the pockets in the dirty wash basket. Junior was already upstairs putting the tooth under his pillow and the familiar ache of motherly guilt was beginning to unfurl in my chest as I imagined having to break the news to him that there was not going to be a special delivery. I started to unpack his school bag - half eaten packet of crisps, wet socks, chewed up homework sheet and the tin I give him for Monday club money. Imagine how my heart swelled when I heard it rattle. Inside was the £2 which he had forgotten to hand in to Babs! I’ve never been so happy to have a son with a memory like a sieve. When he goes to bed tonight I will write yet another letter from the tooth fairy and gently slide it under his pillow when he’s in the place “where dreams are made”. And I don’t feel too guilty for telling him porkies about the existence of fairies who take his unwanted teeth away to make beautiful necklaces. These are magical times and so short lived I will relish every single moment of them.
I was just having a little moan to my Dad on the phone about always having to fork out money left, right and centre for things that are out with the budget (i.e lost teeth) and he told me to look on the bright side. With two less teeth in Junior’s head at least I’ll save some money on toothpaste!