Say No To The Dress
LORRAINE didn’t make New Year resolutions any more. Too many diets and exercise regimes failed to flourish. Too little motivation and, if she was feeling sorry for herself, too little support.
This year, though, she was determined to do a massive declutter.
She’d heard it was supposed to be liberating, getting rid of piles of old stuff and being freed up to enjoy the belongings you wanted to hang on to.
“The less I have, the less I have to look after,” she said to herself.
She went to sleep on New Year’s Eve dreaming of a minimalist wardrobe, a pared-down make-up tray and a cutlery drawer that opened smoothly because it wasn’t full of mismatched knives and forks and every conceivable shape and size of spoon.
The next morning, she was fired up and raring to go.
She began in the bedroom.
Swishing open her sliding wardrobe, she started grabbing clothes from the hangers.
“I’m never going to be a size ten again,” she announced cheerfully, piling up skirts, trousers, tops and a couple of long cardigans on the bed. “I might as well pass these on to the charity shop.”
Out came all the shoe boxes. There were teetering heels that gave her a headache, satin things she’d worn once to a wedding and a pair of greying tennis shoes.
“Out you go!” Lorraine sang as the cardboard boxes for charity and the black bin bags for the rubbish dump grew fuller.
As for make-up, why was she saving three old dried-up mascaras, and did any woman really need 18 different lipsticks? She reduced them to two at a stroke.
“This is great!” She beamed at her reflection in the mirrored doors.
“Should have done it years ago.”
She decided to sling everything in the boot of Jake’s car – her son was a good lad and would help her drop everything off tomorrow.
Out went all the little toiletry miniatures she’d gathered up and never used from hotels and B&Bs over the years.
Into the compost bin went the out-of-date prunes and lentils and the glutenfree spaghetti bought by mistake from the back of the larder.
“It’s amazing what I’m finding,” she said when Janice, her friend, rang to see if she wanted to go for a walk. “All sizes of binliners, none of which fit any of my bins. A raft of cleaning products under the sink. I bet just one good one would do the same job.”
“Sounds like you’re really going for it,” Janice said. “What does Raymond think?”
“It’s New Year’s Day, which means Raymond is eating sweets and watching ‘Zulu’. He couldn’t care less.”
“Well, good luck with it, and let me know how you get on. I need something to keep me busy and away from the biscuit tin.”
“New year, new you?” “New waistline would be good, at least.”
In the middle of the afternoon, Raymond appeared from the livingroom to find Lorraine on her hands and knees in the kitchen, her head in the cupboard under the counter.
“Oh, there you are. Are we not having a New Year roast dinner, then?”
Lorraine jumped and hit her head on the inside of the cupboard.
“Ow! No, Raymond, we are not having a roast. Just this once, I’m taking a day off from cooking and doing something that I want to do.”
“Which is what, exactly?” “I am decluttering!”
“Oh. Housework.” “Wrong,” she said. “In fact, it’s the opposite of housework. I am reducing our belongings so that we don’t have so much to maintain. So we can cherish the things we choose to keep and live more simply.”
“Right.” Raymond snapped a banana off the bunch. “Looks like housework.”
Lorraine was determined not to be deflected and, once Raymond sloped back to the front room, she attacked the house with renewed vigour.
Tins of shoe polish went flying from the cupboard under the stairs, and a biscuit tin of golf balls Jake had collected as a little boy on a visit to St Andrews was ear-marked for the charity shop.
Lorraine wondered if hers was the only house to retain two varieties of vacuum-cleaner bag for models they hadn’t owned this century.
She then junked some odd shoe laces, used birthday-cake candles, ends of balls of wool, Jake’s dried-up poster paints from his schooldays and two defunct telephone directories.
They said decluttering was good for you, so Lorraine gave it a whirl . . .