Into the bowels of domestic darkness

Christmas now over, the need to do something with the decorations is ever more pressing.  I am very much in the 'leave them in the corner and it'll be December before we know it' school but, oddly, my wife doesn't share that view.  This might have something to do with the fact that our house is of the shoebox variety. So it was up to the loft with them, a job I have avoided since Twelfth Night as I knew it would open up a whole new Pandora's Box of jobs I have been avoiding for as long as possible.  The loft needs 'doing'.

Our loft is a small space, not very practical for moving about in and with a range of interesting flooring boards which have clearly been put down haphazardly over a number of years.  My primary task was to make some sense of this jigsaw, to make the space available a bit more useable and to render said decorations slightly more reachable when it comes to December this year.  The problem is, to lay a new floor, I really needed to empty the loft.

Naturally, I didn't, instead adopting the lazy approach of endlessly shuffling things around as I craned my neck to one side and my legs to the other, my pained torso somehow keeping them together.  It is, of course,blindingly obvious to even the greatest fool - me - that emptying it out would have made the job eminently simpler but when has common sense ever been applied to a DIY task?  Certainly not in my house, I can tell you.

The issue for us is that we are rather partial to books. I collect endless annuals and picture books, many of which weigh huge amounts and which, when put into a box, are practically immovable.  There is a box of foreign books left over from a Degree course, not to mention endless items collected from foreign travels which have the double disadvantage of being irreplaceable and delicate, so chucking them from one side of the loft to the other is not an option. Neither, I might add, is stacking the blessed things. 

We have two beautiful throws bought in India many moons ago for a ridiculously small amount of money which have been in a bag up there since 2000. They will one day emerge into the light doubtless to crumble into fragments as we throw them open.  There is also an exquisite lampshade bought on our honeymoon in Southern Spain which has also remained in the dark since the two weeks it spent travelling round that country with us.  Tip for travellers: never buy anything big at the start of your holiday: the taxi drivers don't like it.

The loft is a horrible place, full of thick cobwebs, strange signs of occupation by who knows what and what looks like a woodlouse massacre.  Spending three hours up there, as I had to today, is close to the worst activity I can imagine until the day I become a z-list celebrity and have to be tormented in a makeshift jungle by the comedy presenter duo of that day.

Still, I completed what I had to do, laying out the boards I had previously put up there, stacking up the endless boxes as far as possible and adopting positions only a 14 year old gymnast should.  The few boxes I had removed dutifully returned, I emerged blinking with the depressing sense that I had not finished - for Reader, I had run out of boards.  After a visit to the local DIY shed tomorrow I shall be up there again to lay more flooring and, doubtless, to undertake yet more box-based Jenga.  With luck, I might even manage to make enough space for the decorations.

With luck.

It won't last, I know that.  Modern life seems to be like Robert de Niro's character in 'Brazil': you just keep accumulating and accumulating until eventually you end up being suffocated by things you don't really need but which you can never get rid of.  A bleak notion but then, I have been in a loft all day, so forgive me.

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