Friday, 22 October 2004

family visit

We are going to visit my family for a few days this week. We've been planning it for a while and they have known about it for a while. However, a slight hitch has arisen at their end. Previously mentioned Aunt Edith and her friend 'Aunt' Flora are coming to visit during the same period. Aunt Flora is also an ex-teacher, a primary head-mistress. She also has a beard, but as far as I am aware she plays no musical instrument of any kind. They are both in their eighties.

This has meant that B and I will be sleeping in the single bedroom, as on both a 'first come, first served' and a 'seniority' basis Edith and Flora have bagged the spare double room. This is not an issue, as we can take the inflatable mattress.

Ma has an issue though ... the single bedroom could also be described as 'The Room of Doom'. A large selection of the miscellaneous crap that has accrued in the house since 1956 is piled in there. Ma appears to be congenitally unable to throw ANYTHING away. Up to and including the early 1960's Vauxhaull Cresta in the top shed. Which is underneath the two bedframes, the four moth-eaten canvas deckchairs, the three broken spin dryers, the two washing machines, the rolls of rusting chicken wire, the two aquariums and three hamster cages, the broken fridge, the crates and crates of jars for pickles and jams, and, for some reason, a dove-cote.

So no room to move the stuff in to there then.

When I telephoned her yesterday, she was coming to the end of sorting the stuff out, with the help of
Edwin. I think that this probably consisted of shoving most of it up in to the attic, which already contains the accrued Furniture of Ages Past, all our baby toys (please note that I am 34 and my sister is 32) and a Silver Cross pram. Oh, and squirrels, who wait until everyone goes to bed and then don hobnail boots and run round and round and round*. I am hoping against hope that she then let Edwin burn everything that was left over.

I realise that I am a selfish and unpleasant daughter; but it is becoming increasingly clear to me that when my parents finally give up their mortal coil and move on to The Great Smallholding In The Sky, I am going to be the one who has to sort through the two big sheds (and we are, really, talking BARNS here - think
nissen-hut-type WW2 sleeping accommodation) and the four smaller sheds and the attic, and winnow everything out.

Questions: If a box hasn't been opened since 1956, can you morally chuck it out without opening it, on the grounds that if no-one has needed the contents for sixty years I am unlikely to find them useful? What is the correct method of disposal for rusty chicken wire?

*Please note that I do realise that squirrels are not nocturnal. However, I REALLY don't wish to think about the other options. Don't get me wrong, I LIKE rats, they are intelligent, loyal, etc. etc. I would love to keep one as a pet. But the idea of a surprised rat in hobnail boots falling through the ceiling over my bed as I am sleeping worries me ALOT. I am working quite hard at not thinking about it.

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