Having just gone back to work after two weeks off, the mood is positive. This is despite the continuing attempts of the weather systems bothering the UK to impose a pathetic fallacy of doom and angst. Every time it seems to be clearing up some fresh annoyance sweeps in. The reason then, for this upbeat demeanour, in the face of our shit northern climate? It is due to a feeling, actively nurtured, of letting go of some things.

Holidays are a good time to take stock, and Easter holidays are traditionally a good time for Spring cleaning. With a succession of weather fronts Setting In, we were less able than usual to throw open the windows, air the sheets, give walls a lick of paint, then pop down the river to visit a rodent pal.

However, we (me and The Best Belovèd) did spend a good deal of time looking at the shelves, as detailed in the Books post (2nd April just then), and the cupboards, making plans to shed a ton of baggage. This is a fact moonlighting as a metaphor; we have a weight of stuff accumulated, between us. I’m not sure if it’s worse or better that we keep a bunch of extra stuff in an attic space (another dual function phrase).

The precise purpose of holding on to most of it is unclear. I mean – sure, that’s 14 boxes of books… But, that’s 14 boxes of books!

Hoarding is something one tends to associate with those sad cases who are found dead under 50 years’ worth of Daily Mirror back issues, knocked out by a collapsed stack of Dolmio jars, stifled in the dust of a lifetime’s unemptied ashtrays. Not parsimony, not Scrooge McMean avarice… just an inability to shed? Yet here we are, with a bunch of consumer goods, that escape uselessness by the narrowest of annotated margins. Or that vault effortlessly over boundaries of taste and meaning from a realm of slightly boss-eyed whimsy. Exhibit K: a 7″ single of Kylie Minogue’s I Should Be So Lucky, which I am fairly confident I have kept for the sole reason that if you play it at 33 rpm it sounds a teensy bit like Rick Astley:

How we passed the time in 1987.

Happily, there are remedies for this kind of low-level symptom of late capitalism. A few years back I wrote something about psychological benefits found in setting fire to old notebooks. Clearly my sentiment is not so incorrigible that it can’t be combatted with a well-timed radical gesture. …I’m not going to burn all the books! Not that radical. But as the holidays drew to a close, a moment of clarity enveloped the house, and various schemes – and, crucially, motivated enthusiasm – for riddance took hold.

Here’s to the enduring joys of bibliophilia, of record collecting, whatever the little indulgences in items that foster joy and devotion… but here’s also to being able to see and accept when something could quite easily be got rid of, never seen again, and remain unmourned.

“…my god, it’s full of tat.”

Fresh outrages with children’s clothing and social nudging at Tesco.

Recently acquired for our 21-month-old female child: the kind of funky “Digi Robot” pyjama set, in exciting oranges, blues, stripes…
tesco-boys-pyjamas-roboto

By far the nicest jammies in the (limited) selection available, and she loves them. In fact, within seconds of seeing them she had stripped off, the quicker to get into them. Yet they are, somewhat perplexingly, labelled “boys pyjamas”.

Here are some other pyjamas with which you can “update his nightwear”:

"...because Mummy is soft as shite."

“…because Mummy is soft as shite.”

And here, by contrast, are some “girls pyjamas“:

Sarcastic captions fail me.

Sarcastic captions fail me.

The more I think on these colour associations, and the not-so-subtle social nudges provided by the stuff written on clothing, when I consider our two year old daughter and the choices being made on her behalf by Tesco and all the other outlets getting all pink and beauty sleepy in her face at every turn, the more… well, actually, it makes me just baffled. Like, whaaat? I really don’t get it. How is orange male? Why is that strong just like daddy? What if boys want to be beautiful and/or sleepy? How many meetings have I missed?

Then I worry. It’s not just Tesco, of course. It’s everywhere. It’s constant. So the problem must be me. In the face of this realisation, I think, what sort of monster have I become? Buying something intended for a particular function, then transgressing social mores and chromatic decency by misusing it!

Then I think, right. I want a king size bag of blue grips over here for all the males, and a queen size bag of pink ones over here for the little ladies. Now we can all GET A GENDER-APPROPRIATE GRIP.