Stuff and Nonsense?

From the ages of 17-34, I moved home at least once every 12-months and in 2001 peaked at a ridiculous six different residences in one year. I’m discounting the ‘travelling years’ when I was bed-hopping nightly – not necessarily with the saucy connotations that statement implies – more usually on an unofficial bed-share basis to keep costs as low as possible.

During those years my possessions became familiar with the newspaper/cardboard box combo and my clothes were used to existing for long periods in bin-liners; the more seasonal-specific attire sometimes going into hibernation for several years at a time depending on the amount of storage space available, length of lease and the state of my positive feelings towards the place as a potential long-term dwelling.

On reflection, there were some relocations that merited no more than a toothbrush, change of T-shirt and radio but then I do tend towards an optimistic outlook plus I never was any good at travelling light. Even during said nomadic period, my rucksack acquired its own offspring – mini bags of paper, card, pictures, cuttings, shells, stones, sticks, beer mats, match-booklets, letters, post-cards, scarves – or bits of material that could potentially be used as scarves, fliers, tickets, maps and of course clothes – in fact all the tell-tale paraphernalia that indicates a hoarder.

So is this the confession that my family has been awaiting for years? My name is Melanie and I’m a hoarder? Not bloody likely! There may have been times when I was less than ruthless with the memorabilia that adorned my life including possibly the in-class note collection from circa 1988, every birthday card from the ages 10-18 and the endless shell fragments that were collected from beaches around the world but which out of context had the look of those bags of sea-debris available from Wilko for about £1. Perhaps when making the choice in Western Australia to pack up a trunk-sized box and ship the lot back to Blighty rather than throw it away could have been a sign that my ability to pare away the detritus from my life was limited.

However, I know I’m not in the danger-zone like the documentary subjects who have piles of newspaper stacked into a maze of corridors leading to their bed, although I definitely do sympathise with their rationale. I have even done some streamlining of late, although the moment that the raggedy T-shirt from 1990 kept purely because it reminded me of a brilliant Pixies gig at Reading Festival went into the bin (I couldn’t even salve my conscience with the Charity Shop pile) was truly gut-wrenching.

The possessions I’ve been carrying around from place to place like a massively mis-shapen bin-baggy snail are things of little monetary value but they are the effects which enabled me to build an instant home no matter which carcass of a dwelling I happened to be in at the time. By having an enormous scrap-book of my life close by, I could feel a more immediate connection to friends, family and formative acquaintances that may well be many miles away.

Besides I recently read an article that said those people who surround themselves with mementos of their life are likely to show greater emotional intelligence than those who live a more minimalist existence. And there you have it – all those years spent humping bags of “crap” about with me have finally been substantiated – I’m actually an emotional freaking Einstein mum!


In June 2011 I had six different kinds of vinegar and a disappointing camp experience

June 2011
I’ve got 6 different kinds of vinegar…
…but no potatoes, salad or salt,
10 different teas but no milk or sugar,
6 kinds of coffee but no clean cups or a cafetiere,
6 sorts of sweet spreadables but no bread products,
5 types of pickle (excluding mustards and sauces) but no cheese or crackers.

For the record they are:
Red wine, white wine, balsamic, onion, spirit and malt
Earl Grey, decaff, builders, lemon, green, rosehip, peppermint, jasmine, apple and lemon + ginger
Filter, decaff, instant, whisky, bags and Camp
Apricot jam, lemon curd, marmalade, blackcurrant jam, honey and raspberry jam
Branston pickle, bramble chutney, piccalilli, plum chutney and green bean chutney

Perhaps I need to go shopping for a few less dependent consumables?

July 2011
Camp ain’t what it used to be: I had a cup of Camp coffee today (admittedly made with water not milk) it was absolutely vile – I still can taste a beefy film lingering on my tongue ten hours later!

My childhood memories of chicory exoticism have all been washed away in that one cup – like the opposite of the Cud song Magic “it’s magic when you find on your tongue, a taste that reminds you of when you were young” – Camp is like anti-magic – I guess it’s moments like these that you realise the adage of never going back is probably true – there’s just too much to lose!

Note to self – never ever revisit: popping candy, HubbaBubba, hot marmalade mixed with cornflour and orange juice to make a delicious and nutritious post-school ‘drink’, rose petal perfume, gerbils and ball-bearings and dominoes in combined and complicated domino rallies, painted-shell snail racing, 24-hour Monopoly games with two boards configured in a figure of eight and complex rules about the double property stakes. Therein lies only disappointment.

My MySpace blog ends there – largely because I was a member of a local Samba band at the time and one of my co-drummers told me how much he’d enjoyed reading my thoughts. Even though I’d put it out there in a public domain, this felt weirdly intrusive and space invading – him knowing more about me than simply my ability to hold a two beat/four stroke action (or not as the case may be). And yet here I am again – for me, the desire/need/compulsion to write down and make sense of my everyday life is something that has always been a part of me. I’ve accepted that people reading what I write is a bi-product of their existence on a website; it also means I can never lose them hopefully – unlike the reams of minutiae-filled rotten diaries that haven’t quite survived the house move and therefore whose particular order of words will never be unleashed on a wider world – which is possibly for the best!

Recycled Peace and Running Stories (Old Blog #2)

May 2011
I ran a half-marathon about 6 weeks ago – tonight I went for a run for the first time since then. It was OK – it’s not nearly as much fun as cycling though. Maybe I come across as more surly when I run because of the concentration that’s needed? I have been considering doing a triathlon so perhaps I’ll conduct a social experiment to test my theory but then again I’d have to confront the psychology of swimming – the mind games that go on in a swimming pool are just exhausting. And don’t even get me started on sauna/steam room etiquette – all I’ll say is that it’s a tiny room – why do people feel the need to talk so loudly?

There’s also the thing about running outside versus being on a treadmill – a mixture of the two is best and of course then it allows you to play the Rocky Balboa v Ivan Drago game. When you’re on a treadmill, you’re like a laboratory groomed athlete who’s good but you know it’s all a bit false and easy whereas running through the rain, sleet and wind, you’re like Rocky in Russia and you know that you’re building on that ‘eye of the tiger’ spirit that will carry you through….

I needed that on that half-marathon day in soggy Milton Keynes when at 6.5 miles my right calf muscle went, luckily Survivor’s lyrics in my head kept me going.

Risin’ up, straight to the top
Have the guts, got the glory
Went the distance, now I’m not gonna stop
Just a (wo)man and his(her) will to survive

June 2011
I’ve decided to do some ‘community art’ so a friend and I have started “Recycled Theatre” and our first gig is tomorrow at Leamington Peace Festival. I’m a bit nervous that nobody will be interested in our offering and prefer to hang out with Sylvester (the child molester) Jester! (I’m not sure where libel starts and finishes so I should probably say that the bit in brackets above is only what I think whenever I read his name – it’s in no way meant to imply that he actually is one!)

We’re making an underwater environment out of loads of old tat and some bits of draped material and hopefully some kids will come and help us with that bit. I’ve written a story called ‘One Little Fish’ which is about one little fish’s mission to keep her beautiful lagoon clear from rubbish that the careless people are throwing into the water – there’s a message – it’s all terribly right on I know. The only disappointing thing is that we couldn’t come up with a song to finish it with – I thought of stealing some bits from The Little Mermaid but instead the one little fish just squeals with delight as she flies above the water – it’s less Disney I know but perhaps that’s not such a bad thing!
Bollocks – did I just ruin the ending….?!