The litter in our lives

What, to my mind, separates the rich from the poor, the privileged from the underprivileged, is the possession of what is variously known as a junk room, utility room, lumber room, or glory hole: that indispensable but all too rare space into which the debris of life can be stashed while its owners ponder its future, if any.

There is no envy in my heart for Midas' yacht, or his string of racehorses, or his tubs of caviar. i do not covet large cars or glorious gardens. The least affluent friend of mine living in some tumbledowon cottage where there happens to be a junk room, is a far surer target for my cupidity. Surely, by now, architects should have got it into their thick heads that no home can be a satisfactory construction without one.

Houses, in my youth, used to have a damp, dark cupboard under the stairs, if not a whole room, into which the lamentably bad portrait of someone's grandmother mouldered along with the tennis rackets and the ironing board. But modern houses, like modern apartments, make no provision for rummage, supposedly presuming our economy is now so geared to waste that we throw away what we do not immediately need.

Yet certainly in every alternate one of us there lurks the soul of a squirrel , and you have only to open the door of a greatly to be desired glory hole to see how accumulative the average householder is. Oh, those old electric fires and dented lampshades and broken frames and dilapidated chairs! Oh, the ancient paraffin stove, the jigsaw puzzles with three pieces missing, the zip bags! Oh, the pretty Regency chair whose seat keeps on collapsing, and the Encyclopaedia Britannica, also with three pieces missing, spread all over the floor!

Why does one keep them all? How could a teapot without a lid or a completely congealed pot of paint everm come in handy someday? Why cannot one bear to part with one's wooden-shafted golf clubs, or the terribly bad watercolor of a bluebell wood near Badminton painted by a cousin? Who knows? Admittedly it is very difficult to get rid of things even if one wants to, videm the number of refrigerators and baths dumped at night into fields, yet if we were given the choice most of us would like to keep, if we could, the litter of our lives, occasionally opening the door of a dear little room to survey it and to wonder why on earth we are clinging so determinedly to father's hatstand.

But where ism this room, darn it?

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