House decluttering and apocalypse planning

Box and packing tapeDue to Dan’s job move in the London direction, we are putting our house in Eastleigh on the market. Despite the fact that this is really Dan’s house which I moved into later, I’ve been able to put my stamp on it in certain places and I’ve really come to love it as a home. But everything has its season and the end of my season in Hampshire is in sight.

To get back to the point, we are putting the house on the market and in order to make it look more attractive and salable all received wisdom says that we should make it look uncluttered and anonymous. Last week I went through a frenzy of tidying, throwing, and giving things away. This reached his peak when Emmaus arrived at the same time that I had an estate agent over to value the place and I gave Emmaus the sofa that the estate agent was sitting on from under him.

Every room but one has had this treatment. The remaining room is the study, aka Kat’s den of books and craft supplies.This poses a problem, because I love to hoard. I love to declutter too. A lot of my life is finding a balance between that momentary high of getting rid of clutter followed by the less momentary but still quite short-lived happiness of having a tidy room, and the warm glow of satisfaction I get when I can put my hand on exactly what I need at the time I need it because I have stored said thing for just this occasion. (I apologise to those reader patiently waiting for the apocalypse promised in the title – I do keep getting sidetracked. Rest assured the apocalypse is coming.)

So I love to hoard. Especially books. You never know when you’ll need them or want to reread them. Dealing with my book clutter was a challenge. I rolled up my sleeves and set to work sorting into three piles: give away, pack away, leave out. The line between pack away and leave out was a hard one to manage. We don’t know how long it will take to sell our house. What if I pack away too many books and am left with nothing to read? I’m already (less than 12 hours later) regretting having packed away some of my reference books that I now want to refer to. I should have thought about it harder at the time, but I was on a roll and they fit the spaces in the box perfectly.

The ‘give away’ pile ended up larger than I expected. Dan and I negotiated back and forth over quite a few books. The argument for getting rid of a lot of the reference books was – ‘We just look that stuff up on the internet anyway’. The discard pile grew. “But what about when the zombie apocalypse comes and there is no internet” I objected. That put things in a slightly different light. Which books did we need to keep in order to refer to when running for our lives or rebuilding society?

  • ‘Guide to knife throwing’ – extremely useful in the case of zombie apocalypse. We’d need to be proficient in all methods of zombie extermination. Plus, ‘I still have the throwing knives and target’. Verdict: Keep.
  • “Alan Titchmarsh’s How to be a gardener” – useful for when all the supermarkets have been raided and we have to grow our own food to survive. Even with all the resources of the internet and our books, we can’t keep plants alive. Last years crop consisted of mostly chillies, a couple of tomatoes, three strawberries, and the one radish that the slugs didn’t get. If an apocalypse comes which requires us to grow our own food, our only option might be to kidnap Alan Titchmarsh himself and make him grow food for us. Or eat our books. Verdict: Give away.
  • ‘Encyclopedia of Magic’ – useful if the zombies possess childlike awe and fascination for the art of magic. One of us could make shiny coins disappear as a distraction while the rest of the party make good their escape from the zombies. As I’ve never seen this scenario play out in a zombie movie, I’d estimate its chances of success are limited. Verdict Give away.

OK, that last one was a reach, but lists look prettier in odd numbers.

The upshot is that I’ll be bringing a pile of books into IBM Hursley on Monday to give away. So if you’re interested in cooking, gardening, Garfield, choose your own adventures, or Tom Clancy and his spin-offs there might be something for you.


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