Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Decluttering - and being bitten by the ebay bug

Ever since I moved out of our old office in Henley about five years ago, I've been carrying round dozens of boxes and crates. Most have contained various work paraphernalia - old project collateral, business papers, bits of kit and the like, but the box collection also became home to various odds and sods that we hadn't got space for at home.

Most of the boxes sat unopened for the 18 months we had the Oxford office, and then they all got shunted into storage when we moved over to Risborough. Some then got destroyed when the storage unit got flooded - I still growl every time I drive past Red Devil in Aylesbury - before what remained - and a whole new lot of additional items - went into a storage centre in High Wycombe.

Finally, last month, I got fed up of paying out to lock up stuff I clearly haven't needed for years, and set about emptying the unit and decluttering.

I've now refound my 80s/90s CD and cassette collection and Laura-Beth and I have been bopping around to everything from Big Country to Lisa Stansfield (and about 250 tapes in between). Some fairly ancient IT kit swiftly ended up in the computer recycling area of the local tip; some stationery, books and a couple of small bits of furniture went straight to a charity shop; a heater was pressed into use at home. I've restocked on office stationery from stuff I'd bought years ago and never opened; old business papers have been squeezed in to our latest, rather compact, office and a load of old collateral simply got sheredded (and recycled!).

Still I was left with two large crates. When I opened them up I found hundreds and hundreds of old football and rugby programmes. Now I've kept every programme from every match I've ever been to - and I've seen a lot of matches over the past thirty odd years. But I thought I'd lost most of them in the flood. It turns out that quite a few had survived - but I just don't have the space to indulge in my magpie tendencies any more.

Rory, Sophie and I had a great time pulling out the rarities - programmes signed by the likes of Man United, Arsenal, Spurs, West Ham and QPR back when my dad had a friend who was a League referee in the late 70s and early 80s. We also pulled out all of the Wasps programmes with Rory's picture in - he has done quite a few of their community initiatives over the years, and with his bright ginger hair, he stands out a mile. The rest, we bundled into lots and stuck them on eBay.

Now I've never sold anything on eBay before, but the last few weeks have been a revelation. Everything we've put up so far has sold - some for quite decent money, others for pennies - and seeing our stuff attract bids, watchers and questions has become compulsive viewing.

The bulk of what I had to offload has now gone, but some bits and pieces remain - at least for the next five or six days (and they're here for anyone interested). In some ways selling off the programmes is sad - every one is a little bit of my history, and I actually wrote and edited quite a few over the years for Oxford, Wycombe, Swindon and Fulham - but hoarding crates of the things has more than a dash of train-spotteringness about it.

Anyway, it has quickly become a habit to check first thing in the morning to see what's attracting bids - and I often have a quick peek before I sign off in the evening.

Decluttering's definitely cathartic - even if I'm selling off my youth!

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