I was talking to a friend the other day and learned that she had just engaged a declutterer. I had never heard of such a person before, but apparently it's someone who goes through all your bits and pieces, files, ornaments, stuff in the loft, etc and sorts them into 'Storage', 'Keep', 'Pending' and 'Recycle' for you. It sounds good, if you really don't have time to do it yourself. It's probably perfectly normal too in California or maybe Kensington. But, honestly, I thought, would I really want someone rummaging through my stuff? And surely, if I really do want to declutter, couldn't I do it myself? Anyway, all my stuff is already neatly arranged into piles of papers and boxes of things that might come in useful (and probably will one day), so there clearly can't be any junk there, can there. Nor any need for a declutterer, even if one exists in the UK.
Bloody hell, excuse my language and shrieks of shock and surprise, I've just googled 'declutter' and found that there's actually a trade association called APDO (the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers) with 12 firms near me that will go through my stuff (over my dead body, I might add) and declutter it!
Never the less, we did go through the garage today and look critically at what I have stored there. Not a car, I should explain - there isn't quite enough room in the garage for that. I do remember someone saying at one time how odd it is that English fill their garages with rubbish and then leave £50,000 worth of precision engineering and coachwork out on the front drive. But that's another story. So we went though the garage.
I reluctantly agreed to throw out the old computer. I can't believe there isn't a way to recycle old computer components. But apparently they are so cheap, and so soon out of date, that no one wants them. Actually there is a PC donation charity. When I was in Africa, I bought a container of donated and refurbished PCs and associated equipment from them for £200. I then donated it to schools who, as far as I know, made good use of it, teaching young people to become computer literate. But it seems difficult to get someone to take computer parts where there might be some sort of fault, in other words without all the leads and equipment to show it's in good working order. I had some problem with the hard disk (which I've destroyed anyway), so that's that. But I'm sure there were one or two transistors or something there that someone could have used.
To digress for moment, our TV also went wrong this week. We had to sit there all afternoon, looking at each other and wondering what to do. Anyway, the first company we rang, the official representative of Sharp TVs, said, 'oh, seven years old! No, we probably won't even have any spare parts any more for those old sets. I'm afraid we can't repair it.' Luckily, our local Mr Handyman took it away, upgraded the software on it for free and it now seems to work. Not only that but he had a returned purchase TV in the van that was now technically second-hand, so we bought it on the spot for a few shillings, which meant we were able to watch Pointless successfully while Albert was away (phew!). What, do you not give your television a name? But the point is that TVs seem to be repairable. It's even been ugraded now (although it still seems only to receive the news from Birmingham. There's a small traffic accident in Walsall at the moment apparently. I'm not sure what upgraded means BTW - probably just an extra 20-odd shopping channels. But still.
Anyway, back to the garage. I also agreed to throw out three perfectly good pieces of wood. I've had them for years and would almost certainly have made something out of them one day. One was only a couple of feet long, but I expect I could have made something with it. I made a really useful TV table with glass doors and shelf under once out of just such useful pieces of wood from the garage. Mind you, if I used these for a table, it would have been a very, very small one. Anyway, I agreed to throw the TV table away too, although with a bit more resistence.
Then we threw out 2 tins of paint. I can't believe I'm telling you this. One was emulsion and the very useful Magnolia colour; the other was Pure White ceiling paint. How could you throw away paint, I can hear you say? I know! Well, the ceiling paint appeared to have solidified while it was in the garage, so perhaps that wasn't so useful, but the emulsion was still perfectly good and there was probably enough there for a good couple of brush strokes. But, no, I let even that go.
What's more I agreed to get rid of a tin of teak oil. We'd used it to treat the garden furniture when we bought it, what, 5 years ago. There was still a little bit left too, even allowing for evaporation and settlement. But it's gone.
And I disposed of the plastic ride on car that my grandchildren so liked when they were 2 years old. Well, they don't seem so interested in it now, so I suppose it's OK to let it go.
We drove to the tip, sorry public amenity facility, with all these downgraded treasures and sought out the respective bins. They have separate bins for batteries, electrical equipment, mobile phones, paint, oil, useful bits of wood, toys even. But I was surprised to see how far sorting has now progressed.
That must be what they mean on the ads by separation then.