Sunday, 25 September 2016

Rubbish - What A Waste

My name is Jill Reidy and I'm a hoarder.

There, I've said it. My husband's been saying it for a long time but I've only just come to terms with it. One of the big problems with being a hoarder is that nothing is rubbish, everything is vital to my life. Everything.

I have Justincase Syndrome (JS). Nothing is thrown 'just in case' I need it years later - that odd nut and bolt that fell off something, the piece of string (too short to tie anything in reality), the elastic band that the postman dropped...... I actually can't remember the last time I needed or made use of an elastic band. What do people do with them? When I was a girl they were used to tie hair into pony tails. Now, their only use seems to be keeping wads of letters together for the postman before being discarded on our doorstep.

I know my feelings are unreasonable and irrational but just as a hoarder's nemesis, OCD, is deeply ingrained and almost impossible to break, so is JS.  I have tried, I really have. For a short while I had a cleaner, who on one occasion went through all my kitchen cupboards, filling a huge bin bag with leaking sauce bottles, bulging tins of rice pudding and out of date spices.  When I discovered the bag I was devastated - what a waste! About 80% of the items were returned to the cupboards.  I did know I had to get rid of things that were no longer needed. The cleaner got her marching orders.

A few months ago, rooting through the same cupboards, I came across a packet of 'Carmelle' dessert mix (yes, I was puzzled too), to be used by 1993. I was fascinated. I couldn't remember buying it (or why) and even I was surprised it had survived Bingate.  Never one to resist a challenge, not only did I make it up according to instructions but I took it in four tiny dishes to a dinner party, where it was eaten with varying degrees of relish.


I blame my grandma and granddad for my hoarding tendencies.  Grandma took me to jumble sales from about the age of three, where we bought the most magical assortment of rubbish: huge unsuitable hats for her, limbless dolls for me; dresses that didn't fit, books with pages missing; old wooden boxes with broken hinges.  We would stagger home, laden with bags, back to granddad in his shed.

Granddad was ensconced in his own little rubbish heaven. Jars, filled with an assortment of nails, screws, hooks and other rescued items lined the makeshift wooden shelves, each jar carefully labelled (with a thick builder's pencil) in granddad's inimitable shaky handwriting.  Granddad would be constructing a tiny chair out of old pegs or painting a wonky picture frame he'd made the day before. Everything was made from rubbish. Recycling and upcycling were unheard of fifty years ago. Granddad was well before his time, although I suspect the constructions were often a red herring. The shed was granddad's escape from the mayhem of family life. In perfect peace he would sit on a deckchair, throw back his head and smoke the thinnest roll up I'd ever seen, only picking up his tools at the sound of grandma's approaching footsteps.

Just lately, I've been thinking about shifting attitudes towards rubbish. For a long time I felt bad hanging on to things that others would discard. It was my guilty secret. Now I'm proud to say I'm helping the planet, keeping those landfills empty.  I'm not sure my husband would agree. He's still nursing the bruised shin from tripping over a huge pile of flattened cardboard that I'm keeping.  Just in case.


Despite my enthusiasm for hoarding, avoiding waste and recycling I'm including this poem by Shel Silverstein as a dire warning to myself. 

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would Not Take The Garbage Out
Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out!
She'd scour the pots and scrape the pans,
Candy the yams and spice the hams,
And though her daddy would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.
And so it piled up to the ceilings:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas, rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the window and blocked the door
With bacon rinds and chicken bones,
Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel,
Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal,
Pizza crusts and withered greens,
Soggy beans and tangerines,
Crusts of black burned buttered toast,
Gristly bits of beefy roasts. . .
The garbage rolled on down the hall,
It raised the roof, it broke the wall. . .
Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs,
Globs of gooey bubble gum,
Cellophane from green baloney,
Rubbery blubbery macaroni,
Peanut butter, caked and dry,
Curdled milk and crusts of pie,
Moldy melons, dried-up mustard,
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard,
Cold french fried and rancid meat,
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat.
At last the garbage reached so high
That it finally touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to play.
And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said,
"OK, I'll take the garbage out!"
But then, of course, it was too late. . .
The garbage reached across the state,
From New York to the Golden Gate.
And there, in the garbage she did hate,
Poor Sarah met an awful fate,
That I cannot now relate
Because the hour is much too late.
But children, remember Sarah Stout
And always take the garbage out!
 
Thanks for reading,   Jill

Reactions:

2 comments:

Steve Rowland said...

Very entertaining, Jill.

Anonymous said...

I am always quoting this poem only to be met by blank stares. I too am a hoarder. Help.