A life. In flames.

Having put the house on the market last August, we are slowly creeping towards actually getting close to maybe exchanging contracts. A move closer to the office may well be in the offing.

So, it has come to pass that the house is being cleared out. Boxes of “useful stuff” have been taken down the tip via at least a dozen trips. Boxes of old clothes have been taken to the charity shops. And boxes of old bank statements, credit card bills, expired insurance documents, student union cards and other detritus of life have to be dealt with.

We are not talking a couple of years here. We are talking about a time before we moved here – 22 years ago. A time before we moved to the previous house – 27 years ago. Indeed a time before the land that time forgot.

There was an Access bill from 1981. That’s 34 years ago (obviously).


Also obviously all this should have been dealt with years ago. There really is no need to keep credit card statements for £20 of petrol from a generation and a half ago. But what to do with it? The shredder gives up the ghost beyond six sheets of paper and after about fifteen minutes, it needs a rest for half an hour. Then, what do you do with a bloody great bag of shredded paper? The tip won’t take it. The guinea pig will be left 3 feet down at the bottom of the garden if/when we move, so has no need for bedding any longer. So, bring on the garden incinerator…

Paper is actually difficult to burn, in quantity. Outer sheets burn, but a whole load of sheets will only char in the middle, even when the fire is burning fiercely at 451F, which is the temperature at which paper burns. It’s bloody hot. Hot enough to remove the galvanising from the incinerator. This means that paper has to be added gradually, or the fire stirred with a suitable long handled garden implement – wooden handles don’t take kindly to 451F by the way.

However, after an hour or so on Saturday evening, 34 years of life in papers had gone up in smoke.

Cathartic isn’t a sufficiently good word for it. It was extremely satisfying, but edifying seeing the ebb and flow state of the family finances over the years disappear. Mostly flow, let’s face it.

Even if the whole moving transaction goes TU before exchange and completion (definitely not getting excited about it yet), the house, and especially the loft, will never be the same again.

And that has to be a good thing.

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