Thursday 22 August 2019

Frank Coughlan: 'Imagine no possessions? Just de-clutter'

Clutter bothers me. I like my space and like everything to be in its allocated corner of it. Stock photo
Clutter bothers me. I like my space and like everything to be in its allocated corner of it. Stock photo
Frank Coughlan

Frank Coughlan

Stuff. Our house is weighed down by it, most either being redundant or irrelevant. The sort of clutter that doesn't contribute anything to our lives to compensate for simply getting in the bloody way.

Personally, I could fit my life into a decent wheelie suitcase and leave nothing I really value behind. Family aside that is. But I don't say as much. No point testing my luck or having my bluff called.

If I buy new clothes, I'll recycle something else I don't wear anymore and long ago I dispensed with my record collection as I simply stream everything now. Movies much the same.

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I've gone virtually virtual, so to speak.

Clutter bothers me. I like my space and like everything to be in its allocated corner of it. If you're guessing that makes me a tad difficult to live with, you've got it in one. But life isn't a popularity contest.

We've been living in this house close on 30 years and have raised three children, a cat, dog, snake (don't ask) and various goldfish across that time.

We have gathered about ourselves bits, pieces, odds and sods, souvenirs and assorted detritus and debris. And that's just the good stuff.

I have often moaned and tut-tutted but nobody ever listened. But de-cluttering wasn't a thing back in the day. Having stuff, after all, was about social status. I was simply ahead of my time.

So time raced by and these things multiplied through stealth, accident and good old-fashioned bad taste.

The house is old, creaky, shabby chic-ish and roomy. Our bedroom, despite its many other failings, is impressively big and over the decades has summoned to itself all manner of flotsam and jetsam.

It hid most of it well, like a plumpish woman who knows how to dress to conceal, and was only found out when we set about giving our sleeping quarters a long overdue revamp.

To make way for a new carpet, the room had to be totally evacuated. It was then that all was revealed.

In and above wardrobes, indeed behind them, lurked long-lost possessions we'd forgotten we had. Under the bed too, embalmed in impenetrable dust, more mysterious items were extracted like artefacts from a medieval dig.

But it was mostly clothes. Outfits, like the one with power shoulders bought for a special occasion in 1987 and never worn again, emerged into a daylight that was no longer kind to them.

Aghast at the Everest of salvage our bedroom coughed up, we swore that no more than half of it would be issued a return visa.

So we're de-cluttering. Me with ruthless enthusiasm; Debs with an occasional sneaky back-glance at shoulder pads and leg-warmers.

Imagine no possessions? Hardly, but far fewer would be good. We're only getting started.

I occasionally have cause to hop off the Dart at Grand Canal Dock before slipping up Barrow Street.

But after wandering blindly into what might be loosely described as a political protest there a few weeks back, I began to avoid. I discovered at the weekend they are still there. God, we're a tolerant bunch.

I won't elaborate on what exactly this small if persistent gaggle of, hmm, ideologues are actually spouting. Why give them the oxygen of publicity? But I can confirm their tedious megaphoning substantially subtracts from the sum total of human knowledge.

Perhaps some of them might contemplate getting a life, or a job, but I won't hold my breath.

I think we'd simply settle for getting our street back.

Irish Independent

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