I give in. Rather like the lush grasslands that over thousands of years were overwhelmed by the encroaching sands of the Sahara, I am giving up my home to the inexorable expansion of the Things. Like the once-unyielding stones of Angkor or Borobodur, the voracious tentacles of the Stuff have engulfed me, weakened my foundations of cleanliness, and pulled me down under their crushing weight. I simply cannot stand to spend one more minute tidying up.
Now that I have surrendered my home to the Objects, it will slowly evolve into an archaeological site of the future. Hairy students with Bristol accents will one day chip through the sediment. On the surface, they will find the biggest Stuff: books, single shoes and empty DVD cases. In the next layer reside the medium-sized Things: Lego, magnetic letters and pieces of shredded paper. Finally, at the bottom, in some cases actually embedded in the rug, lay the tiny Bits: gold stars, multi-coloured beads and ancient grapes that occupy a new category of food stuff (for 18-month-old Alpha Blondie strongly believes they are edible) that is halfway between fresh fruit and dried raisin.
What will these archaeologists make of my home, hundreds of years from now? “Maybe this random scattering of Things had a ceremonial purpose?” they will ask. “Or were the inhabitants forced to abandon all this Stuff because of a sudden climactic event?” they may well posit. “Perhaps this mother of the Anthropocenic era just sat down in the middle of the room one day and thought ‘feck it, I can’t be arsed any more’?” one of the mature students will more accurately wonder. And who can blame that poor, ancient creature, who simply did not have the wherewithal to cope with the overpowering deluge of Crap that swept into her life along with the sudden arrival of two children?
Take this morning, for example. For reasons I have no patience to explain, I was scouring the house and garden for the following Lost Items: a packet of modelling clay, an item of clothing that may or may not exist, and a watering can rose. Nothing. The act of looking-for-things often throws up other unexpected chores, so on the way I cleared a path to make the stairs navigable again, did some recycling, unearthed a copy of Elmer and read it with Alpha Blondie, removed and washed the kids’ bed sheets, discovered an elusive corner of a Peppa Pig Jigsaw and completed the puzzle to check I had all the other pieces, and cut out about a hundred butterflies from the aforementioned wrapping paper. All very good…
… but back to the Lost Items. There was only one place left to look – under the sofa. I lay face down in the prime grape-drying area between the couch and the footstool, and dislocated my left shoulder in order to better sift through the quagmire of Things. No clay, clothes or watering can roses. But I did find: a Charlie Chaplin DVD, two Peppa Pig DVDs, a red cushion, half a wooden carrot, a book, a shoe (mine), a slipper (Alpha Blondie’s), a sock (Curly Girlie’s), a block of Post-it notes, an otoscope, a number 9, an empty tin of macademia nuts (the Husband’s) and a Frisbee.
Naturally, I didn’t remove any of these items from under the sofa because then I would have had to find homes for them all. Instead, I lay there with Alpha Blondie bouncing on my back making trotting noises and made a decision: instead of removing the Things from under the sofa, why not simply store them there? Then, when the Husband asks for his nuts or Curly Girlie demands a wooden carrot or Alpha Blondie wails ‘OOOoooOOOoooOOO!’ (which roughly translates as ‘I need a shoooooe so I can go outside and fall over on the stones’) I can just say: ‘under the sofa, Darling!’ What a neat solution.