We aren’t hoarders… but we have a lot of junk! 56



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We are not hoarders, but we accumulate junk in areas in our home, that is to say we keep things that we are never going to find a use for. We try to fool ourselves by saying ‘we might’ want those 15 half used pens or lipsticks in weird colours, so have a drawer crammed with old envelopes, lipstick, pens and buttons. It is probably a throwback to the austerity we grew up, when after the war people kept bits of string and brown paper, because there really was a shortage of things in the shops, and times were tough. Our children loved playing with Gran’s button tin. Against that background, we are so endowed with luxuries now we don’t need to keep those things. Yet still the cupboards overflow. We are both artists, and we love writing, so books and art objects are part of the life we live, we can cope with the paintings in the hallway and the scribbles scattered around. When the piles get too big, I have a real ‘purge’, and am about to go on ‘super’ purge soon. Things we don’t need; half dried up paint in tins, boxes presents came in, birthday cards that were cute, 72 wine glasses, we never throw parties now. Ornaments we bought in far flung places that mean nothing to us, jars of beads from a hobby, earrings that have lost their mate, broken or unwearable necklaces, we even have a blow up bed, (unused) and watches with no batteries. We can question why my husband keeps buying caps and hats and rarely wears one. Hats seem to breed in this house. I love scarves and sold a lot online once, now I regret that, some were vintage and I miss them, so will keep my scarves. I have a very strange long pleated gauzy skirt that I found in an op shop and a glossy raincoat with big shoulders, I have not the courage to throw them out yet, after all there might be a dress up I need them for, so they get put back each time.

ben table

Clothes I regularly recycle, and it goes to charity shops, I think the glasses will also follow the clothes one day soon. Books we have pared down and each book has to have a good reason for us to keep it. But why am I keeping exam papers from my hospital course, and essays I wrote, who will care when I am no longer here? Books on art have a place, but do I need all the magazines on art I am saving? OK, now and then I have a browse, but mostly they sit in a cupboard gathering dust. I hate gadgets so my equipment is fairly minimal, I have a small mixer, with a dough hook and beaters, an electric frypan, a toaster and a hand held blender. Most things are done with a whisk, a wooden spoon, and a sharp knife. My ability to lose all the bits from any complicated equipment is my sensible reason for this.


Plastic boxes with no matching lids are a problem, have a huge box of bit I must try to match one day soon, they will go to the bin followed by food from the back of the larder like breadcrumbs and pasta which are out of date, then I think in the past we kept dry good for ages, now we cull the packets without a thought, a bit like the tomato sauce and pickles we used to keep more than two weeks! Now we dare not for fear of death.

Yet as I fill bags with newly acquired ‘rubbish’ and see it carried away why is it that I find the matching earring to make the pair, and remember why I kept that box that is now heading to the tip?


Tell us, do you hoard a bit of stuff? What do you have lying around that you’re saving for a rainy day?

Jacqui Lee

Jacqui Lee is 75 and now retired but the last ten years or so have been some of her busiest. She worked at a hospital, where she took several Certificated courses, she cleaned a school, helped to run two conventions, wrote short stories, started painting, and in fact is never bored even now, "I honestly feel we are lucky to still be upright and breathing, and my motto is, Remember yesterday, dream of tomorrow, but live today. I love fun, clothes, food and friends."

  1. I always enjoy your articles, thank you once again for your refreshing look at everyday life

  2. We do keep a lot of stuff and sure as we get rid of anything we will be wanting it for something Hate this throw away world

  3. I can really relate to this! I also have a ‘purge’ every so often and it feels great to do so!

  4. I think being a very early baby boomer we grew up in an era when our parents made do and collected lots of what the new generation call ‘junk’ because of a fear of running out of or. breaking something and not being able to replace or fix it and I confess the habit has come down to me. My kids call me an organised hoarder and it’s true, I compare my junk drawer with that of my daughter and daughter-in-law and though mine is neat it’s full, theirs is sparse with just very essentials not things that just may be useful one day. Don’t hoard clothes only because I’m a fabric mixed media creator and recycle my older clothes into art books etc. the only type of hoarding that my kids truly embrace is my love of the written word and that’s good.

  5. Yes I’m a hoarder, but have to simplify my life as I hope to be moving soon, it’s hard to part with some of the junk and as you say always sorry that some are gone afterwards.

  6. Wonderfully written Jacqui! This all so resonates,and I admire your courage in being ruthless. We have had a huge clear out and are still in the process of dealing with 40 plus years of accumulation. However, I packed away all my little knick knacks and told myself I’d wait awhile before discarding them. I stared at the now cleared mantel and window sills and thought how the family would approve of the new “clean” look! A friend popped in and said”,oh my gosh,the Souls gone out of this room! It’s like you’ve already left!” So! That was all the encouragement I needed to put back all my crystals which shot rainbows across the room!All those little treasures I’ve been given are crammed back on the mantel, and I can’t tell you how happy it has made me,to retrieve that bit of my Soul. So Jacqui keep what gives you pleasure,and Scrapbook those old memories,they will give future generations much delight!

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