The Big Issue : Edition 553
THE BIG ISSUE 12–25 JAN 2018 13 PHOTOSBYJAMESBRAUND HAPPY NEW YEAR! Are we enjoying that “minty fresh” feeling? Mid-January is special – the short perineum after the covfefe of Christmas, just before the work year kicks us in the face. Possibilities seem endless, and we’re open to self-improvement, particularly if it’s some hot new trend. Who among us, giddy with resolve, has not seriously contemplated underwater spin-class*? I’m currently excited about the transformative possibilities of Döstädning. This is not a flat-packed shelving unit, but a cutting edge decluttering philosophy that translates from the Swedish to “death clean”. Mmm. Death cleaning. Did I mention Happy New Year? Still, morbidity hasn’t stopped Margareta Magnusson’s book with the click-bait title The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning from rocketing up the charts. I’m loving its ethos. In a nutshell, Margareta’s opinion is that no-one wants your stuff, so start clearing out all the crap you’ve accumulated so others don’t have to deal with it when you’re dead. Harsh? I guess that’s why she’s slipped the word “gentle” into the title. But I reckon she’s on to something. A few of us, Bond villains mostly, have sparse, soaring, glittering pads filled with objects d’art and future-forward tech. The rest of us, as we age, have accumulated acres of possessions that have sentimental meaning only to us (worn-out band T-shirts, our mother’s Royal Doulton tea service, dress worn when virginity lost), daily use stuff we bought from Ikea and lashings of once-loved goods we can’t bear to part with. This doesn’t even begin to factor in medication past its use-by date, articles you intend to read one day and your childhood ceramic frog collection. Be objective for five seconds. Put yourselves in your next-of-kin’s shoes. Consider what will happen to your stuff after you head to the happy hunting ground. If you’re honest, you’re visualising a giant skip. Unless it’s mid-century Danish, no-one wants your furniture. Unless it’s an actual » Fiona Scott-Norman (@FScottNorman) is a writer and comedian who will be getting rid of lots of her stuff soon. Want it? FIONA Death to Cleaning “Once the animating force of our personality and history is gone, all that’s left is cat hair, paperwork and junk.” Brett Whiteley, no-one wants your art. And unless you had the foresight to invest in 1970s Star Wars figurines still in their original packaging, absolutely no-one wants your tchotchkes and ornaments, books and holiday souvenirs, letters and awards, clothes and pewter vases. A) Everyone has houses crammed full of their own terrible things, B) Those items are meaningful only to you, C) Your taste sucks. I’ve watched many friends go through the ritual of clearing out their parents’ houses. It’s what I did for my folks. It’s always the same. Take a big sigh, roll up your sleeves, grab a jumbo-size roll of bin bags and wear a path in the road to the op-shop and the tip. Yes, there are always finds – photographs or a lovely necklace, a stash of letters – but pound for pound the “keep” pile will be a molehill next to an Everest of “oh god”. Of course it will. Once the animating force of our personality and history is gone, all that’s left is cat hair, paperwork and junk. That’s okay. I am under no illusion, for example, that anyone else will value my John Laws poetry albums, racist sweater collection and New Orleans drink coasters. Döstädning traditionally applies to death cleaning another’s house, but Margarita’s hot new take is we death clean ourselves. If we can’t be arsed sorting it out, she reasons, how fair is it to force it on someone else? I am so in. Yeah baby, let’s tackle that spare room. I had a non-consensual death clean recently, in that some SOB broke in and cleared me out of valuable AND sentimental items – that’s the last of mum’s jewellery. So sod it. I’m in a gung-ho mood for 2018. Who’s in? *Actually a thing.