My favourite shed on the allotment site. I’ve been photographing it regularly as it slowly collapses and it occurred to me that perhaps this is what I’m supposed to do. Well I’m not!
My study is a tip; it’s been that way for ages (for ever as my friends know) and I realized that it’s becoming alarmingly like that shed – full of memories but gradually sinking into senescence. I’ve already posted about getting rid of my piano which I can’t play anyway because we live in a concrete biscuit tin and you can hear someone opening a can of beans four floors up. Sound carries alarmingly well and soon after we moved here I played it just once and our downstairs neighbour was kind enough to say he’d heard me playing and it was rather nice. How typically English to use kind words to send a warning, and so I’ve never played it since.
In fact my room was becoming a kind of memorial to what I’d done in the past. When we moved here we got rid of hundreds of books, we even burned masses of old radio scripts that I knew I’d never read again. Years of bank statements, receipts, correspondence all went into the incinerator, and I wore a car out driving back and forth to the recycling centre. I burned thirty years worth of diaries – full of meetings that seemed important at the time, but full of the pain of illnesses and bereavements as well as weddings and baptisms I’d taken.
But there were many things I brought to Bath, not least yet more books. So many books, in fact, that they were stacked two deep on the shelves. The question is – was I ever going to read them again? They were comforting, they reminded me of times and enthusiasms past and yet they began to feel like a load that was cluttering up my future, and so today they started to go down to the Oxfam shop in order to make way for new books, new projects and enable me to open the shutters and let the light in. So first thing we walked down with two bags of books and the women at the Oxfam shop said they’d be delighted to take as many more as I’d like to bring.
All this all involved a division of labour at the Potwell Inn and Madame went up to the allotment to pick four and a half kilos of broad beans and two kilos of garden peas, the first strawberries, a tiny taste of very sour blackcurrants and some new season garlic, while I battled with my instincts to cling on to the books to the point where I reliquished another five boxes. Naturally my room looks worse than ever now, but when the piano goes I’ll have space to set up my botanical painting worktable. Lest this all sounds terribly worthy, I have to confess that I also ditched five boxes of absolute junk including a lifetime collection of old mains connectors and several heritage satellite TV boxes and broadband routers – oh and some power tools that died years ago and a load of rusty screws and bolts that I have no recollection of acquiring.
I think I’m supposed to say that I experienced some kind of catharsis and suddenly felt energised. Well no, as I took the last load of books down to the car, I had to fight the urge to go through them all again and my back ached. Yesterday we had a horrible drive back from RHS Rosemoor, with standing rain on the motorway reducing visibility so much one van driver had somehow managed to drive up a bank on the inside of the crash barrier. I don’t think they were much damaged, except in the pride department, but it was suprising how many drivers were ploughing up the outside lane at over 70mph.
Does any of this matter to anyone else? I truly don’t know except I do know that I’ve no intention of going quietly.
Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.