Scrutinizing the attic

NEXT time we sit cross-legged on the attic floor we're really going to look carefully before throwing out anything. Anything. Everybody seems to be finding something valuable in his house these days, and without explanation for its presence. An American homeowner unearths a bucket of early coins. Soviet workmen repairing a building in Minsk find 73 old photos of playwright George Bernard Shaw. And a Northern Ireland farmer rooting around in his attic discovers a long-lost manuscript by Franz Joseph Haydn, that splendid 18th-century Austrian composer of classical music.

We wouldn't expect to find a Haydn manuscript in our attic - we have cleaned it since Haydn's day. But you never know: Somebody finds these things.

Next time we're marched up-attic under orders to clean it out, we'll jettison no paper without reading to its bottom line, dispatch no photograph without identifying its image. No matter what anybody thinks.

It's all enough to pit the savers against the thrower-outers - unfortunately, since they're likely to be married to each other.

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