Get rid of ANOTHER half of our possessions

Regular readers may recall that I have already done this once. So now we are getting down to some tougher decision making. Everything that remains has already survived one drastic cull!

But, as homelessness looms, we have to judge what we really value enough to cart round to storage, keep there for months, and then cart elsewhere and unpack again. Anything that we neither like nor use nor value for sentimental reasons, has already gone. Now we are looking at things we can profit from selling, things too heavy to move, things we can really do without, things that are specific to the home we are in, things we don’t absolutely love.

So, all the sofas are sold, one dining table, several bikes, all manner of cheap and unattractive storage items. The fridge freezer, the washing machine. Chests of drawers, dining chairs, boxes and boxes of books, kids toys, spare curtains from previous houses … Anything that might be useful ‘one day’ we have decided we will ditch and buy again if we ever need to. We do not need to fill our lives and space with contingency items. The weight of owning all this crap is itself oppressive. Shoes for the children to ‘grow into’. Shoes that I might one day wear again, but haven’t worn for years. Clothing that might be useful, in certain scenarios that will probably never arise. Outdated electronic apparatus that we spent too much on but is now obsolete. All gone.

At the end of it all, Ebay has been the main winner. Them, and the pikey community of Blunsdon who ransacked my car boot sale for little more than pence. But overall we are up several hundred pounds, and our skeleton possessions are stored in 2 cars and a friend’s spare room. I am not sure whether to be embarrassed or proud that everything I own can fit into a room she doesn’t even need to use.

The children have been stoic in the face of downsizing. Rosie ran in one day with her drawing paper and pens in hand – ‘Mummy Mummy! Where is the table!?’ I had to confess it was gone. She lay on the floor with her colouring book and got on with it. Eva went to get the milk from the fridge… and found the fridge no longer there. She located the milk in the coolbag and had her breakfast on the floor. As the sofas reduced in number, they all squashed up on one… when that went they sat on camping chairs to watch TV. Then the floor. When the TV went, they played on the trampoline. The trampoline went, and they hunted for caterpillars. There is always something. Caitlin has struggled a little with the absence of her more treasured possession. ‘Mummy, where is my Miaow Cat? You have sold it Mummy, I know you have!!’ (Actually I really haven’t. The miaow cat is genuinely lost, but nothing will persuade her of my innocence in the matter.)

It has been a liberating exercise, though we still feel we have too much. And it is also kind of depressing. I am disgusted at the amount of ‘stuff’ we have amassed in the last 20 years, and how little any of it is really worth, to me or anyone. The car boot was a miserable display of the detritus of modern life, crap that people have bought to make themselves or their children happy, which is offered, for a few pence, to anyone who wishes to take it into their lives, where again, it may make someone smile for five minutes, before becoming oppressive tat that weighs us down, gets in the way, and distracts us from anything of real worth or meaning in our lives. Down with ‘stuff’!

What a terrible load of arse. Let’s never go shopping again.

Trashing the house

As the day of departure from our minging bungalow (known affectionately throughout our acquaintance as the B.O.D. – bungalow of doom) drew near, I began to discuss with the landlord whether we really needed to spend £200 on cleaning the carpets to protect our deposit.

‘Good God no,’ he replied. ‘I wouldn’t even bother wiping the surfaces. We’re knocking it down the next week’.

‘Hmm’, I said, cogs whirring. ‘Well in that case, could we have a bit of fun with it? Do you mind if we trash it properly?’

We established that he didn’t. Don’t break any glass, and don’t trash the curtains; these were the only ground rules.

So with much delight I invited 10 families round for a comprehensive house trashing party. Bring paints, glue, wallpaper, water pistols, and some very low value clothing.

It was the talk of the classroom for a week or two. Finally the big day was upon us.

At first the children looked rather anxious about the whole thing! We may have drilled them a little too convincingly on the disastrousness of making mess and ruining their clothes!

‘Mummy, help, I have got paint on my hands! Get it off!’

‘Caroline, I have accidentally spilt a bit of paint on the carpet. I am sorry.’

‘Mummy, there is paint on my trousers!’

‘Am I allowed to paint on the wall?’

‘Am I allowed to draw with pens? Really? Am I? In real life? Mummy, really??’

No one could quite get their heads around the level of freedom and carnage suddenly permitted. Some of them looked positively fearful!

So the adults got stuck in. Greg threw the first paint bomb, it burst in a flurry of red paint and the girls squealed as paint went in their hair. We graffitied the walls. We painted our hands and made prints. We created splendid faces looking down from the ceiling. We painted amusing shapes on one another’s heads.

The children began to relax. Requests for their own paint bombs flooded in. Greg spent the next hour filling up balloons.

As the devastation got underway, everyone became more comfortable. After an hour, we had a lull and fuelled the kids with hot dogs. More parents began arriving to collect. The adults congregated outside and chatted idly among themselves, slightly losing track of both time and parental responsibilities. The remaining children seized the day. They found all manner of ingenious methods to get paint on every corner of the house, and indeed themselves. By the time we remembered them, they looked like this.

Holy moly.

It was brilliant though. My kids were the envy of their class, 20 kids had enjoyed freedom beyond their wildest imaginings, and now all my friends live in fear that similar creativity might be applied in their own homes! Tee hee. The only down side is that we have to live in it for 3 more days before we officially move out!