I’m in a “what’s all this stuff?” mood. I’ve already climbed up to inspect the cupboards over the wardrobes – fine old junkyard they turned out to be. In the “office”, empty lever-arch files practically fell out onto the floor and were immediately photographed and placed on the Freecycle website, together with a couple of old mouse-pads. There was a mountain of old but pristine foolscap paper. Printers nowadays are not familiar with foolscap and usually stop, bewildered, at A4 level. I have never been able to resist hoarding stationery, especially paper, but I was firm and consigned the lot to the recycle bin.
Then I needed to find a place for a tiny torch/pen/keyring combo that I had no use for but would surely come in handy one day. Ah, the kitchen drawer!
Everyone has one. It might not be in the kitchen, but somewhere there’s a holding pen for things that you don’t know what to do with. Mine is the kitchen drawer, and it’s rather like a writer’s mind: full of things that might be useful some day but not just now. I opened the drawer and muttered “what’s all this stuff?”
What indeed. Jam jar covers and seals for preserving jars – it’s years since I bottled peaches or made jam. Matches, screwdriver, travelling clock, kitchen timer, plastic jar with spare curtain thingies because they are always breaking or slipping off the ends of the rods and you can never find replacements when you want them. Upholstery brushes and gadgets for removing cat hair and lint from the chairs, labels for shrubs, labels for the freezer, a box with rubber bands and another with instructions for various gadgets, plastic containers with skewers, clothes pegs, door stops, feline worm tablets, bottle stoppers, sun-glasses, corks, a clothes brush. And two more torches.
I have a kitchen drawer of the mind where I store stuff. It’s untidy and disorganised, and contains items that are bound to come in useful one day. Contents are so familiar that sometimes it’s hard to remember whether I have only thought about them, had fleeting Eureka! moments about them that came and went before they could take root, or already used them in stories, poems and essays.
Unlike the contents of the kitchen drawer, however, I don’t propose discarding any of them, even if I could, because it’s the stuff of a writer’s mind. The scrappiest of items can turn into something else given enough time and that strange, magical fermenting process that occurs when ideas swirl and evolve, hide and reappear in another guise. Even that tiny torch was useful after all.