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Margaret Gow: My house is so full I feel like Christmas has been


I’ve been thinking for some time that this place is ridiculously full of “stuff”. Trouble is, the law that ‘When you have room you will find something to put in it’ certainly applies to my house.

The next problem is that when my generation were young, we were only too happy for furniture or crockery to be handed to us: these days the grandchildren (forget the children: they definitely have no room) want all new things, despite all the antique shows on TV which, no doubt, they never watch. What did that chap say about ‘knowing the value of nothing’?

Anyway, I’ve been looking into cupboards (and shutting the doors quickly) and the pantry, which has items at the back of shelves dating from the turn of the century. And that’s another thing: ‘sell by’ and ‘best before’ dates. We never used to have these! If something hasn’t been opened, looks and smells right, to me it IS right. Consequently I am currently enjoying a jar of whitecurrant jelly made by my eldest daughter in 2002 - great with chicken - and an equally scrumptious jar of onion marmalade also 12 years old. If malt whisky is improved by longevity, why not other things?

I’ve also started to delve into the freezer, where I discovered an ambrosial package of paté de foie gras from 1989, smooth as silk and gorgeous on toast. There wasn’t anything wrong with the cut green beans either, four years in there had done them no harm at all!

But the best forage was in the cupboard on the landing, the other Saturday.

Amongst the extra duvets were nestling 14 pictures which never got put on the walls, a box of five photograph albums, full equipment for cutting and showing home cine films as well as an ancient reel-to-reel tape recorder, a boxed silver-plated cruet set and an inspection lamp with yards of flex.

Also hiding was a casette radio, two fishing rods standing in a large brass shell case (souvenir of HMS Cambridge), a box of Christmas decorations, a bag full of bags for putting presents in, eight rolls of wrapping paper, oodles of plastic bubblewrap, a garden solar light, a bottle of 60 per cent vodka (!) another full of strawberry liqueur and a litre of gin.

Also, two sports bags, one unused since 2007 when handy for ferry carry-on journeys and found to hide a lucky dip - five freebie sachets of face cream, a tube of 20 factor suncream, a container of menthol wipes, two sewing kits, two plastic spoons, two pairs of black bootlaces, a bag holding loo paper and an elastic bandage, a double-sided mirror and a powder compact I thought I’d lost, and a notebook. Add to that an empty suitcase and a brief case last used in 1997, and all that was needed was a partridge in a pear tree...

Now it’s tidier, some things given away, in the dustbin or ready for the tip, I can get my vacuum cleaner in. And never mind Christmas - I think I’ve already had mine!

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