Household Tips #5 – The War Gene – it’s a thing

Why is it that the second most expensive item I own sits in the driveway next to the first? If I could put the car in the house I’d do some weather damage limitation and combine the value. But I can’t get the car up four steps. Or through the door. It’s a thing cars won’t do.

So it sits out there wondering why I don’t value it enough to give it shelter. I let the dog and the cat in. The weans all have a place to rest their wearies. But, poor car, despite faithful service and being one of my best friends – we go everywhere together – languishes in the great outdoors like an abandoned pet. I talk to him. Usually, it’s, ‘Don’t you dare make that noise!’ and ‘ Come on, boy, you can make it.’ Kinda the conversation I have with my husband from time to time. And I let hubs in the house.

The reason I am a wanton mistress to Ford is because my garage is full of stuff. Stuff it should not be full of. Some of that stuff doesn’t even belong to me or anyone else who now lives here.

There are china dolls with creepy faces.

china dolls

No way are they getting back inside. Eldest daughter left them here when she moved out. Along with a collection of other dolls from far flung parts. It was a thing she did at one point. Years ago. So why are they still there?

That’s down to a thing I do. I’m sure I inherited what I like to call ‘the war gene’. My parents were both ten when WWll began. They lived through the bombs and evacuation, the rationing and the make do and mend years.  Couldn’t get bananas till the banana boats made their way back up The Clyde. Powdered eggs. Wtf! 

So they were raised to cut cuffs, turn collars and stitch repairs. Make your own. Reuse buttons and bits and bobs. Value everything. Waste nothing.

I’ve got that gene.

I recycle everything I can. Want to weep when I visit the recycling plant and see all the TV’s and fridges that have been discarded. I want to find out if they died or if they just became obsolete to a better model. They never answer when I ask.

Part of recycling involves not throwing things away if I think a) I might use that later b) that’s a bloody shame, what a waste c) that’s too good to get rid of d) that stuff’s not mine e) I’m so ashamed, I’ve hardly used that.

When my mum died my siblings and I had quite a time of what to keep and what not to keep. She had the war gene. Everything seemed to have sentimental value or intrinsic value. After attempting to go through them I stored them in the cellar. I now have a cellar with books and papers belonging to my mum and not the heart to go through them again. Still. Six years come St. Andrew’s Day.

Add into the mix two other kids who have flown the coop, left gear, come home again, left more gear. And, in the case of one, is still here because a) she really can’t afford it while at college b) thinks she can but is actually quite enjoying having all facilities for her and her cat c) can’t quite make up her mind. It’s a Mary thing.

The other one is definitely out but is currently in a furnished flat so we’ve got his shit too, including a) a microwave b) bits of furniture c) umpteen boxes d) fishing rods and equipment because he doesn’t want to get rid of them but isn’t fishing for fish at the moment. Bigger fish to fry. That’s a Joe thing.

other folks' stuff 3

Further to the mix, add my husband’s tools/gardening equipment/wood that he can’t bring himself to part with because a) he might use it b) he’s a dab hand at making and repairing c) it’s all perfectly good wood d) it’s my bolthole and I keep what I want here. Wood. It’s a Frank thing.

wood and scooter

And, that’s a scooter hanging from the rafters. Because, maximise space. Clever, eh?

Into the cauldron, add all my paper work from schools (because, yeah, I’ll use that again), years of writing, household crapamailia that has to be kept in case one day I need to prove that, ‘I did so bloody pay that!’, books of mine, more books of mine, a wide variety of craft materials that I’ll definitely get back to using when I have time and little trinkets bought/made by offspring. Why is keeping that tat a thing?

University/college stuff that my kids want to hold onto but don’t want messing up their flats.

A pram. Yup. Beautiful pram that was Anna’s, in the cellar, waiting. I’m not having any more! But, seems a shame to get rid when I have daughters at that sort of age. I know!

Guitars that have been replaced with better models but I feel sorry for.

guitars 4

Poor buggers. They need to go. Nothing can save them now. Wonder if guitar heaven is a thing. They did nought wrong.

Um, what else?

Chairs – because we need extra ones for occasions. But not all the time. Why buy more every time? Common sense thing.

Bikes. Fair enough, they get used.

Clothes. Fecking clothes. Do you have any idea how much room (not to mention washing) clothes for a big household take up? Fortunately, hubs used those tools and wood and screws and savvy to build custom-made wardrobes in every bedroom. Begs the question why one or two of my crew still hang their clothes on the floor. That’s a thing I hate.

I’m also really good at recycling clothes and fill up bags on a regular basis. Put them in the garage till I’m ready to take them for recycling. Then my eldest daughter brings more in that she’s getting shot of, we all have a rummage and snaffle the ones we like. And I send the rest away. To the garage. Pending. It’s an Anne-Marie thing.

With determination, black bin bags and a hardened heart I’m back to asking, ‘Does this give me joy?’ If it doesn’t, it’s going. Apart obviously from the crap I have to keep for the purposes of a) I’ll definitely, maybe use that at some point, b) that’s not mine to decide on, c) aww! my mum/dad/weans/memories.

I don’t see the car having a place to shelter any time soon. What am I, Superwoman? But, I might manage to shift things around a bit, make a few phone calls threatening decapitation of creepy china dolls and I’m definitely throwing out all my school crap. That’s what the internet is for.

Well, that and telling you all about how I propose to spend my Saturday – opting to streamline my life. Again.

It’s a thing I do. From time to time. Genes, got a lot to answer for. Been proven. Real thing.

Another thing. Procratination. Not started yet. Thought I’d blog about it first. It’s a WordPress thing.

And the sun’s shining. Ford is calling to me – take me some place, far from this driveway. Leave all this behind. They do so talk!


Aye, ah wish. I’d make houseroom. Not the Hoff, bleugh! Here Kitty, Kitty.  Weird thing, saying that. I’m not even a cat lover. More genetically programmed for dogs.


43 thoughts on “Household Tips #5 – The War Gene – it’s a thing”

  1. Excellent sweetheart. You do seem to hoard…I mean KEEP many things of sentimental value. I loved the excuses /reasons for holding on to bits and pieces. I’m very similar, storing the girls school work, most of their good toys and all of their books I read to them when they were little. I’m getting a little better as I get older, at throwing out stuff. I’m sure there’s a guitar heaven. I’ll write a eulogy for them if you like 😊 K still hangs her clothes on the floor too! My parents went through the War and dear pop will finish everything on his plate, knowing how he starved whilst escaping. Thoroughly enjoyed the read. Thank you. 😊❤️

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    1. Gawd! What if I end up as a bag lady? Only it will be box lady? I think I knew I had a problem when I returned from working abroad and left behind clothes, shoes and other paraphernalia to make sure I had room in my cases for books and writings and drawings I’d done. The replaceable I have no problem recycling. It’s the sentimental and the irreplaceable I have issues with, right enough. I’ve still got my wedding dress and going away outfit! Old school ties! Feck! This is serious. Where are those bin bags? I will not be a box lady. I will not be a box lady. I will not. Get that eulogy ready, Jen. Nearly time for a cremation. Can I keep all my writing at least? I might go back through all that one day. 😉

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      1. You should hear me laughing over here. Ok I’ll start on it tomorrow Hun. Yes you can keep all your writing, that’s a must keep. PS I still have my wedding dress and wish I had my going away outfit as I loved it..but yes I tossed it. Boundaries and limitations sweetpea. I’m sure with my help (as I madly search for those cleaning up hoarders people places) number, I’ll help..I promise 😜xx

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      2. Probably just as well you tossed it, Jen. I had mine on recently to show my eighteen year old when she asked what it was like. Oh, how she laughed! Bugger the fact that it still fit – admittedly in different places (bigger boobs then!) – it was the style she was having a go at. And the colour. And the shoulder pads. 😛 Aquamarine, fishtail silk suit! Wtf! It was lovely at the time. Honestly. Sure one day it’ll come back into fashion.
        I don’t think the hoarders’ number will help. I’ve seen those programmes and I’m always so ‘what the hell are they thinking of?!’ and impressed by the fact that I couldn’t live like that. Not unless I’m forced to live in the garage. Or the cellar. Second thoughts, find that number. My jaiket might be on a shaky nail here. 😉

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      3. It’s on speed dial, just ready for these cases of emergencies! Mine was a two piece very lightly knitted cotton cap sleeve top and a midi skirt, all in rust colour, but some stripes of cobalt blue on the skirt. I thought myself very trendy back then (1980). Fishtail silk suit you say? Darling I am sure it will return..oh and I never had boobs, only when I was feeding my weans! 😊

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      4. Ooh, I like rust. I used to have a satin-effect rust skirt. Or maybe it was my sister’s. First up, best dressed. 😉 Don’t have a thing in that colour now. Time to shop! No, I shan’t. Not till I fling a few more things. Got a dress I’m definitely getting rid of after same daughter above asked for something to wear for a play in school last year. ‘Something that looks as if it might be from the fifties,’ says she. I laughed. She found a longish lilac dress with polka dots and claimed that would do. And it did. :/ Never wearing that again. Fifties, I ask you! Wasn’t even born then! I’d talk boobs with you but I’m inclined to forget this is a public forum once I start chatting. Been caught out there before. Here and on Facebook. In real life, too, if I’m being honest. 😛

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      5. Yes fling before more buy-ing. Lol at your fifties comment. I was born in 55 😩 Lol I’m the same and knowing that these post are on google for the world to see also…one must show a little restraint.. 😕 We shall refrain from boobage chatter then 😂

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      6. I have a cheek, Jen. I just scraped it into ’61. 😉 I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that forgets myself. I chatted away with my sister one night via FB unaware it wasn’t on private chat. Fortunately, no real damage was done when she alerted me to the fact. That’s what comes of being born in the auld days – haven’t a scoobie! 😉

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  2. Lovely and informative read! It seems I too have that gene! However I am getting good at activating my peace gene and peacefully purging (in small doses) lots and lots and lots!

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    1. I’ve got the peace gene too. 🙂 I never thought to use it for a clearout but that makes sense. Peace all round and loads of room. Time to meditate on that one, Pam. 🙂 x


    1. I knew it couldn’t just be me. If there’s nought up with them, Phil, you keep right on wearing them. Except for those ones with the massive collars that were trendy once upon a time. And the ones with umpteen buttons up and down the cuffs. And maybe not the patterned ones with wee dugs and ponies and stuff on them. Bit naff them. 😉

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      1. I’m pretty good with not wearing things when they are no longer fashionable, but I’ll hold onto them until they’re in style again. BTW, what does ‘Bit naff them’ mean? I’ve got to keep up so I’m good for my next trip to the U.K.

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      2. It can be used in a number of different ways. ‘Bit naff them’ would be ‘those are unstylish in the extreme!’ You might also say, ‘Naff off!’ meaning ‘Get lost. Stop annoying me.’ Or someone might be ‘naffing about’, ‘having a carry on’. I’m more likely to use ‘faffing about’ for the last one, as in, ‘Stop faffing about and get your homework done.’
        Glad to hear you’re a fashion conscious gent, Phil, you’d never make it as sexiest guy on the planet otherwise. 😛 Say hello if you’re in my neck of the woods. 🙂

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  3. Ha! Great post! So true – my car has no shelter either (thanks kids)…..
    in the US we call it The Great Depression Syndrome – or something like that. My Father-in-law would buy ALL the margarine on sale and fill his freezer then give it to us because they used a pound every three months – LOL
    have a great weekend

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    1. Now I do buy loads of bread and put that in the chest freezer that’s also in the garage. That’s what the dolls are sitting on. No wonder I can’t get Ford in! But we go through mountains of bread here. And milk. Really could do with putting a coo in the garage but that would be pushing it, maybe. I think there’s definitely something in this Depression/War gene legacy thing. Either that or we humans are programmed to preserve for times of dearth. Can’t win. :/ Have a great weekend too, Cate. x

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  4. I could so relate to this post! My parents were both WWII kids and my mother keeps EVERYTHING. I can give things away easily, but I have a really hard time throwing things out that still have a use…somewhere…by someone… My daughter is 32 and she still won’t let me donate any of her old Barbie furniture…I think it’s genetic. 🙂

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    1. I wish we had garage sales here like in the States. I’d just open it up and tell folk to take what they fancied. That’s kind of what it is, I think, with the things that are still useable. I’d rather give them away than throw them away. My eldest kids passed toys and whatnots onto the youngers and I’ve gradually been able to get rid of a mountain of toys and cuddly animals. I do remember being heartbroken when my mum gave away my baby doll. I was in my teens, right enough, and I didn’t play with it but, you know, you’re attached to these things. 😉 Maybe your daughter could take the Barbie gear to her place. What am I talking about? That’s part of the problem – don’t actually want it but don’t want you to get rid of it. :/ Definitely genetic.

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      1. Ha ha ha. My daughter doesn’t have the room yet to start storing her own stuff. She has a son which has helped unload some stuffed animals and books. The Barbies are still waiting it out in the shed. 🙂

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  5. I was born during the Great Depression and spent my high school years during WW2, so I inherited both those genes. No wonder our garage needs to be cleaned out every six months. However, that only happens, with luck, ever six years. Right now, it’s time again, triggered my desire, too, to provide a home for my newly leased car, Heigh Ho,Silver. She (even the dealer refers to her as a “she,” deserves better than the street.

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  6. This is so me. We’ve had to empty rooms in order to paint them (finally) as we are (finally) seriously looking for a bigger (!) place, so that’s been a good opportunity to sort and be rid of stuff that doesn’t need keeping. Yet something in my genes makes it hard to let go of things like playbills and cards and the like… ack.

    And now I’m having anxiety about the storage space full of boxes of stuff I haven’t seen in two years (I miss some of it desperately, tbh. Books, records and such), and how they’re all going to need going through once they are moved into this still-hypothetical larger place… Honestly. It’s keeping me up nights. We haven’t found a house yet, and I’m worrying about where we will put stuff.

    I need a drink. And it’s only noon. I should be able to hold off until the baseball game.

    Good luck with your sorting. Hope to make a dent in some more of mine (not to mention the painting). Although that WordPress procrastination thing sounds more like something I want to be doing…

    Not enough time left on the staycation. Happy Saturday, A-M! xo

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    1. All the things you miss in storage makes me think of the line from ‘The Quiet Man’ where Maureen O’Hara says she needs her bits about her. I think it’s probably a thing we all do. Whether we have loads or a little, we form attachments to our bits. It’s like my office. I’m sitting in my own space right now surrounded with my books and whatnots, everything to hand. And it is comforting. I’d miss my things. Probably could do with less of them, frankly, and they don’t mean anything to anyone else. But they’re my bits.
      I hope you find something soon, Cole, to get all your bits about you again. Be warned though – the more space you have the more bits you acquire!
      Good luck at the game.
      I ended up not even doing the clearance and just went out for dinner with Frank and the two youngest instead so I’ve still got that to look forward to. Soon. But not this weekend. It’s my last couple of days before work too. These staycations sure flash by. 😉 x

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      1. I think we share a brain sometimes. Really. Every time I start feeling angst about my stuff, I hear Maureen’s voice demanding her ‘t’ings’.

        I will try (and fail) not to acquire more things, but I’d really like to reconnect with some of them- sooner rather than later. I have a couple of pair of nice boots in one of the boxes, for example. And all my grandparents’ lovely oak furniture.

        We’re headed out for dinner as soon as the game is over- and then to Second City for some laughs. Have to do something a least a little vacation-like before heading back to work. Where did it go? xo

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      2. That’s funny, Cole. There’s another thing we’ve never even spoken of and snap. 🙂 Love that movie. And it is only natural to fret if you’re separated from those things that make home feel like home. God help those refugees. A bit out of place here, I know, but makes you realise that no one would voluntarily abandon everything without a massive reason.
        Go enjoy dinner, some laughs and the rest of your vacation. Hope your team won.
        I’m giving in for the night. Pulling an all nighter is okay sometimes – at the start of holidays! xo

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      3. It’s an all-time fave of mine. But I love ALL Maureen O’Hara.

        Very true- and I realize it’s ridiculous to stress over such things. But, as you say, it’s the people AND things we love that help make a home, and I’m missing some of the memories tied up in some of those things.

        Jays lost again (I’m reminding myself that there’s no crying in baseball)- so I will need the laughs tonight. Sweet dreams! xo

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  7. our families and our “stuff” have much in common – I’ve been donating boxes of unused stuff for years but it seems to make no dent in the accumulation – the kids keep bringing more things to “store” at grandpa’s house

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  8. I can relate to all that! Having moved all the stuff in our loft to the garage and then back again I am acutely aware of all the crap we have collected over the years. Some of its packed in boxes from the shop I worked in when I fist left school!

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    1. Isn’t it awful? You have to laugh but maybe we should be crying at the lugging about of so much baggage. My sister-in-law took packing cases with her to South Africa, brought them back home again years later and eventually tossed the lot. Paid for their holidays halfway round the world and back and eventually figured if she hadn’t opened them in all those years they weren’t needed! And I bet if she’d opened them she would have oohed and aahed and kept some of it. I know what’s in all my boxes right enough, though that doesn’t help. :/ We need to be ruthless, Scott. 🙂

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  9. I am totally opposite, I am always asking a thing, “Give me one good reason I should keep you.” Mom is going to start having boxes brought over from my storage, and I shall be asking that question quite a bit, not out loud though.

    I really like the little Indian Barbie though, all the rest are creepy.

    My sister is quite like you, she has old paintings from her son from way long ago. Mom has gotten better, but more out of necessity since I am here.

    Peace & Love

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    1. I don’t have anything in storage elsewhere, thank god, or I’d be in tears. I actually started this post because when I began to clear some of the boxes I realised that so much of the stuff wan’t even down to me. I’ve certainly kept things I’m attached to – sentimentality has a lot to answer for in the storage stakes – and I’ll probably still hold on to that sort of stuff. I can’t bring myself to bin it. Going through one of the boxes in particular was a complete waste of time because I just put it all back again!
      I know very well I could live perfectly happily without most of it but, it’s like Cole and I (and Maureen O’Hara!) were saying, these are your ‘t’ings’ – there’s history in them.
      It’s everybody else’s crap I get fussed with. :/ I could empty at least half of the garage and the cellar if the kids who’d left home took away with them what was theirs. Or at least decided what they no longer wanted to keep. I need to nail them down on it.
      Good luck on going through your things. If you’ve done without them for a long while it might be quite easy. Or not, depending on what you find! 😉

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