The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - REAL LIFE - Anne.gildea@mailon­sun­

des­per­ado type be­gins in­nocu­ously with, say, not chuck­ing out the Sun­day pa­per the next day be­cause there was some­thing you wanted to ‘get around’ to read­ing. Next thing it’s 40 years of Sun­days later. There are thou­sands of pa­pers and thou­sands of things never read, but, if you keep them, you have some con­trol over all the in­for­ma­tion you’d like to take in, but just can’t.

Then there’s the flip­side fear that you’ll throw away some­thing you’ll need later. I hardly ever wear most of my many shoes, but I might, and that’s rea­son enough to have too many. Some out­fits re­quire a quirky shoe, and it might just be

‘Keep a thing for seven years and its use will come.’ What about the woman with ev­ery se­ries of

Buffy – on VHS

those slightly hideous flow­ery ones bought for a fiver in a sale in ’91, never worn – so far! Shoes are never thrown out un­less worn out. Ditto with ob­scure blouses and weird trousers. Just be­cause I haven’t been in the mood for the gold lurex flares or that ochre ny­lon batwing shirt for the last decade doesn’t mean the mood won’t take me in the next. If I paid good money for it, it’s not go­ing un­til it’s ragged. And ditto with makeup, pans, crock­ery, and that stupid sol­dier made out of tin and wood that I bought in Tu­nisia. The thing about pans and tin sol­diers is, they never wear out. And worse, if you hang on to things long enough, the old tat of to­day be­comes one of the cov­eted an­tiques of to­mor­row. Do I want to de­prive some lucky an­ces­tor sev­eral gen­er­a­tions hence of a po­ten­tial golden moment on the An­tiques Road­show, and a few quid, to boot?

None of the heaps of very old note­books can go, in case there hap­pens to be the nub of some­thing bril­liant in one, even though most are just filled with scraps for un­writ­ten gags – ‘the body of Ein­stein and the mind of Elle Macpher­son’, ‘hips are the new breast’ – less bril­liance, more me­men­toes of years of chaotic ef­fort. I haven’t thrown out any­thing I’ve worn on stage as a Nuala, ever. But th­ese aren’t be­spoke Bowielevel cos­tumery, they’re old high-street party dresses, ripped and drip­ping strings of un­stuck se­quins. There are loads of them, go­ing back nearly 20 years, but I can’t let them go, can I? Why? I don’t know. But at least, lis­ten­ing to the ra­dio, I know I’m not alone with this prob­lem.

We live in a ‘ throw away’ age. You keep throw­ing stuff away to keep on top of things. A few gen­er­a­tions ago here, noth­ing got chucked, be­cause there was so lit­tle of any­thing. ‘Keep a thing for seven years and its use will come to pass,’ a woman said her grand­mother told her. Great ad­vice, that I wish I’d tried with my last boyfriend. (Joke.) But how can it ap­ply to the caller who still owns the com­plete se­ries of Buffy The Vam­pire Slayer on VHS. And her video player doesn’t even work any­more.

The trou­ble is, ‘stuff’ is not just ‘stuff’, it’s con­nected to emo­tions, mem­o­ries, rel­a­tive value and a sense of se­cu­rity in an in­se­cure world. There’s guilt about be­ing waste­ful, and guilt about be­ing clut­tered, and then just guilt be­cause be­twixt the two you get stuck. At which point, re­peat af­ter the lady: ‘You need hon­esty and pa­tience. You have to ac­cept the is­sue as it is…’

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