It’s been a very lowkey, contemplative week in this neck of the woods, so how lucky is that?  Given the murder, mayhem and destruction in various parts of the world, a bit of quiet is not to be sneered at.  There’s no knowing how long it will last, so I’m enjoying it while I can.

Lying low wasn’t difficult because the sniffles I’d been holding at bay for a few days developed into an unpleasant, fully-fledged head cold and I was happy to join the dog walkers – keeping my distance – in the morning, then pootle about inside, taking it easy, albeit making serious inroads on the tidying front.  Please stop laughing there at the back.

When we were in Rome, Maureen and I had plenty of time to chat and the subject of my de-cluttering (or lack thereof) came up – yet again.  “You’ve been talking about that for years,” she said, a touch irritably I thought, “and you’ve done nothing about it.”  A bit harsh perhaps but, on reflection, close to the truth.  “Does it make you unhappy?” she said.

That phrase stuck and when I got home, I considered the question – and the clutter – anew and came up with the answer.  “Yes.  It does make me unhappy.  Yes.  It bloody well does.”

What a relief that admission was, a weight off my shoulders.  And, being a great fan of shows like “Sort Your Life Out” with the irrepressible Stacey Solomon and her crack team, I knew in my heart that I was nowhere near lost enough to need their services.   It would take a while but I could do this…

A few years ago, one of the nearly nieces (cousin’s daughter), who knew that I had a paperback copy of Marie Kondo’s “the life-changing magic of tidying” rather cheekily gave me a hardback copy for Christmas.  She really did know me too well.  The book is much-thumbed but still intact and I’m re-reading it as I make my last push for freedom.

The main problem, if I’ve read the book correctly, is Komono, miscellaneous items and I’ve got plenty of those.  Sorting those is time-consuming and I defy anybody, bar a ruthless, indiscriminate chucker, to make light work of the miscellaneous.  For instance, what about the box painstakingly covered in Japan many years ago, at the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament, alongside Larry Mize’s wife and sons – who are probably both married now with children of their own?  Wonder if they still have their wee boxes – seem to remember theirs were much neater than mine.  The box is bad enough but the contents?  What to do with all the badges and bits of ephemera?

Bits, bits and more bits.

And then, of course, there are the bits of paper, endless bits of paper, not just mine but Dai’s, so the trail goes back years and years and years.  And it takes a lot of reading.  You can’t just pick stuff up and throw it in the recycling, unread.  Can you?  If you did, you’d miss gems like the letter from John Glover, the Rules Secretary at the R and A, who sent a detailed, considered answer to Dai’s question about the match between James Bond and Goldfinger.  Classic.

A lovely letter from John Glover to Dai (Mr Davies was a touch formal, they knew each other well enough). There was plenty of humour – “An odd job indeed!” – along with the detailed rules stuff.

I’ve also come across old articles by both Dai and me and they’ll have to stay in a box somewhere, to be thrown out by the poor soul who has to clear whatever remains once I pop my clogs.  I do promise them that it’ll all be relatively neat and tidy, with the imp0rtant papers in one place so they can dispose of my sentimental stuff with impunity.  (That’s assuming that I last another week or two!)

After all, who apart from me is going to be remotely interested in the photos from Barbados, where we’re consorting with Kath and Ian Botham (when he was one of the world’s great cricketers but not so good a golfer and long before he became a baron).  It was a long time ago and all I can think is how young we look!

Dai (left), Ian, Kath and a very young-looking me.

That reminds me, most of the cricket books have now gone to the St Giles Hospice book shop:  Warner, Jardine, Hammond, quite a bit of really old stuff, plus a bit of Bradman, Evans and Cowdrey.  If I’d had the room, I’d have kept them, some fascinating stuff, very readable.  Still, decision made.

The bookshelves have all been tidied, dusted down (no bed bugs embedded, fingers crossed) and most of the books put on shelves and not piled on the floor.  This, believe me, is progress.

Dusted and nearly done.

There’s still work to be done but the floor and the sofa bed are now visible, which is a huge advance.  Stacey and her team wouldn’t look twice at the remaining clutter.

A floor and a sofa newly visible.

Marie Kondo’s book has four pages on photographs and how to deal with them, which I’m steeling myself to re-read.  I’ve hundreds of them, from the days when they were sent off to be developed and printed out and who knows if I’ll ever get to grips with them.  In the meantime, here’s one of Dai, from the Barossa a quarter of a century ago, with Elvis, the tame galah, who loved to nip fingers and toes, if he could.  Happy days.

Dai, never more content than in Oz, with a paper and a galah in hand.