Saturday, 22 September 2007

The Battle Of Broken Stool


I'M having a battle with the dearly beloved. We are at war. We glare at each other over the cornflakes in the morning, trying to remain civil for the sake of the cat, and talk in clipped tones about who gets what.
We’re not talking big things like the house, the furniture or the car. We’re talking rubbish.
Yes, I’ve hired a skip (think that’s a dumpster in American) and it stands outside my house it all its rusting, yellow-paint-peeling glory - and I love it. The dearly beloved likes it too but in a much more restrained fashion. My tendency is to throw anything and everything into it in an effort to declutter and minimalise.
The dearly beloved wants to assess every item. If there’s the teeniest chance that we might need it in 2037 if an asteroid hits our house then he’s hanging on to it. Then it’ll be, “Bet you’re glad I never let you throw away that leaking dustbin in 2007; see how handy it is for picking up rubble.”
If there’s ever a rubber band shortage, we’re prepared.
I came home the other evening to find him leaning into the skip, his arse in the air, as he foraged around. In the end he emerged triumphant, brandishing an old tattered book, its cover warped and its pages stuck together with damp.
“You’ve thrown away my Boys’ Own Book Of Industrial Gas Mantles,” he says accusingly. I sigh.
Then we have an argument over a broken lawnmower which I ask him to help me load into the skip. One of the reasons for getting the skip was to clear out the garden shed. It’s so full of things that you can’t get into it without gashing open your leg on some lethal garden tool. We have two lawnmowers. My little electric mower works like a dream but the other is a huge, old-fashioned petrol mower – and it’s broken. BROKEN. Even when it was working (in about 1982) it was too big and heavy for me to use.
“I could easily mend that,” he says.
“You haven’t bothered in 25 years, why would you want to now?” I ask. He looks at my face, at my narrowed eyes and pursed lips, as he weighs up whether it’s worth fighting over. There’s a flicker in his eyes and I can see that he’s thinking that if he mends it, he might be expected to use it. In the end he grudgingly concedes. One minor skirmish won.
But I lost the Battle Of Broken Stool. It was one of a set of four pine kitchen stools, its three mates having been consigned to that great Skip In The Sky years ago. We hated them when they were new. We were poor at the time and they were incredibly cheap. And that’s how they always looked. Cheap.
“I could definitely mend that!” he says. I sigh again. All relationships are based on compromise so I allow him this minor victory. However, I make sure I have written into the peace treaty that he takes it away to his business workshop to mend – that way I’m pretty sure I will never clap eyes on it again.
And so it goes on. I’ve taken to encouraging him to go the pub (not a difficult task) and as soon as he’s out the door, I’m up those attic steps or out in the shed, loading up bin bags with half empty paint tins, fossilised paintbrushes, mouse-eared books and broken plant pots.
I’ve thrown out some old curtains so when I’ve finished my foray, I artfully arrange them over the top of the skip to hide what’s underneath.
It doesn’t stop him lifting them off and inspecting what lies beneath, of course. But I have a plan. The next time he hoicks some mouldering decrepit item out of the skip, I’m throwing him in it, artfully disguised by sticking tubes up his nose and a long nozzle up his rear end. That way, anyone glancing in will think he’s an old vacuum cleaner.

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36 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

I have a vision of you doing a striptease next to the skip, throwing your garments into it one by one. The symbolism would be powerful. Getting rid of stuff is a great idea, a true liberation of the spirit. Who removes the skip when it is full?

Akelamalu said...

Oh you're wicked you are missus, I love it!

laurie said...

this is hilarious. and so true! although sadly in our house i play the part of your husband.

i get my pack-rat ways from my dad. when he was dying, my parents were thinking about moving into a smaller house (they never did). they both looked around the room and spoke at the same time.

my father said, "every item holds a memory."

my mother said, "we'll have to rent a BIG dumpster!"

Jo said...

Ohh what is it with blokes not wanting to chuck anything away..."just in case". Any excuse to be all manly and fix things.

BetteJo said...

A skip! Sounds like the solution to a multitude of problems! If I got one I would only have 2 grown kids to argue with and I still hold some authority there. Wonderful idea! No idea what you should do with your hubby. :) I'm getting the idea HE might end up in the skip if he's not careful!

Maria said...

I have been there SO many times with Bing, my partner. I once rented out a dumpster (it was actually called "a big dump") and proceeded to fill it. Within minutes, she had flown out the door to retrieve a cracker flower pot that she swore could be repaired with crazy glue.

I was the victor, however, as she had to leave to attend a seminar in Virginia. When she returned, it had been picked up, I had filled it to the rim and she never missed a thing.

debio said...

Hilarious!

Reminds me of getting ready to move here; I was ruthless, absolutely RUTHLESS.

Came out one morning to find my gardener going through the skip - took a knackered chemical sprayer and an antique pushchair that I know about.

Husband was buried at the bottom - made sure he was first in....!

Sweet Irene said...

I love throwing things out and my husband hoards. Now he is only allowed to hoard in one room in the house and the shed, so even he sees the folly of his hoarding when there is no room to move around. So he does make trips to the dump and part with stuff. He is becoming reasonable. I keep telling him that one day when we die, my daughter is going to have to deal with all of this and we just can't put her through it. I think that sounds reasonable to him. As we get older, I want less and less junk and more empty space.

CrankyProf said...

Oh, this rings close to home.

I hired a dumpster two years ago, and every time I trucked something out to it, Cranky Husband would go out and haul half of it back IN to the house.

I was ready to chuck HIM in the dumpster before it was all over.

Flowerpot said...

what a wonderful picture! Well done you Table and glad to read another of your wonderful posts!

Primal Sneeze said...

What ever you do, don't throw out that little box labelled pieces of string too small to be of any use. You just never know.

Mopsa said...

It's an annual thing here...and on a farm there are masses of old fence wire and bits of iron and rusted tin to be chucked. There never is room for any of the house stuff and I'm truly not sure if I am the hoarder or the chucker in the family.

Mid-lifer said...

Me! Me! I want a skip too.

I fear though that neither of us would throw anything in it. We are ALL hoaders in our house, even my son who can't get rid of an elastic band because he might want to use it.

Miss Understood said...

I't turn that salvaged seat upside down and show him exactly what I could do with a stool leg!

Long may your patience continue :)

Sassy Sundry said...

Ouch! That sounds like war to me.

Good luck.

Lady Latte said...

I have a completely different problem! I do throw things out and have this idea that I do not want clutter in cupboards. Sometimes I do put things away in our storage room. In our case my husband buys new things to replace what I just got rid of.

Frog in the Field said...

Are you also married to my husband??

Rol Hirst said...

A year or so back, I got my quarterly electric bill and it was £650.

My brother, who's a builer (and should know better) had dumped a skip on a poorly-buried electric cable outside my house, and for a few weeks the skip had been draining electric from my house into the earth. If anyone had touched it, they'd have been fried.

That's my skip story. I hate the bloody things!

lady thinker said...

Oh Dear AMKT - thank you - i thought I was the only one who had a husband like that. In the good old days when he went to work I could have a good clear out regularly and he never missed a thing ... but now ... well, we have a huge double garage full of JUNK - no room left for a car. You made me laugh too so a double thank you.

muddyboots said...

we 'had' the farm office, well, it needs a skip, because you can't get into it any more. Why? because it is FULL of husband's 'rubbish' [car magazines, tractor magazines, meccanno sets], things that might be ueful one day......

Arabella said...

Oh this rang true. The Husband has had us cart a huge, grey, smarmy looking buddha across the entire width of the continent and half way back again. I made the mistake early on of telling him what I thought of it and now he hangs onto it to annoy me!

herschelian said...

I've just checked in to your blog to get some light relief from the pain of housemoving - The big day is tomorrow (whoops, today, its nearly 3am) - and you are writing about decluttering.....aaargh....I can't escape it - even here. I am surrounded by a zillion cardboard boxes, I have sent tons and tons of stuff to the dump and the recycling centre, and we STILL have too much stuff. My husband not only wants to keep everything but I've found he's eveh been keeping everything that belonged to HIS father - 100+ Gold Flake Tobacco tins containing nuts, screws, nails and bits of string. Off to pack another box or three and chuck more stuff into the charity bin bag.

Beki said...

I remember when we moved down here, we went into the attic and so realised why the ceiling was sagging.

It was heaving with rubbish - 2 car boots, 1 skip and 4 trips to the tip followed before it was empty - an attic of about 7ft square! Included in that was a broken chair - why did we keep that?

debio said...

Come on over and collect your award!

elizabethm said...

Every word I could have written (well, maybe not so eloquently but you definitely live in my house). Is it a male thing? Would also like to give some furniture to the children, nothing huge and we could easily reorganise ourselves and manage without it, but my husband who is the kindest man and fabulously generous with money and time, behaves as though I have gone quite quite mad and want him to eat off the floor.

Flowerpot said...

table you have an award - please hop over to my place to collect it!

belle said...

There's something about a skip, isn't there? The captain was once thinking of writing a book called 'Great skips I have known' ... strange but sadly true ;o)

Oh btw, I've tagged you - swing by my blog and see what it's all about.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

I think we're married to the same man. My husband still keeps notes that he and his best friend passed in high school, but threw away the copies of our tax returns absent mindedly.

I wait until he's out of town and then I clean. He never even knows.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Groan, groan groan, I felt your pain. I also have a 'that'll come in handy one day' husband, it makes me savage. But as you say, it's all about compromise, I back down and don't argue...and eliminate it when he is at work. he'll thank me one day.
I have skip envy.
Pigx

Omega Mum said...

There's a great short story to be written here about how the phrase 'I can mend that' proved as useless on a failing relationship as it did on all those broken objects. Not that I'm implying any such thing in your case - you clearly have great wisdom and restraint - and I speak as the woman who is the hoarder in our marriage.

Omega Mum said...

PS Am going to blog link you. Should have done it ages ago.

nutmeg said...

I want a skip! Forever. We must have married twins seperated at birth!

IngeniousRose said...

Fantasic! Made me laugh out loud! I once threw away some old books that seemed well past their sell by date. Turned out they were worth a bit. I supposed I have to side (a little) with your husband on this one. Compromise is good, may be just one night in the skip would keep him quiet for a while.

suzan abrams said...

What a wonderfully drawn-up post.
Reminds me too, of an episode from Everybody Loves Raymond.
btw, looks like big hugs are in order. :-)

Henry North London said...

We need a skip... Unlike most people my parents built a very big garage that houses two cars and the old tumble dryer, dishwasher, washing machine, old satellite dishes, three old bikes, a variety of damp cardboard, and god knows how many boxes of stuff that could be useful in the future. There are days when I feel like chucking the lot out but then that is what you get for building a 20 by 26 foot long garage

I havent got round to putting all the junk on Ebay some of the items are museum pieces especially the Hoover tumble dryer.

Witty Woman said...

Hee-hee, I can't throw anything away and I so sympathise with your poor hubby.

I have things that are almost as old as me (near antiques, in other words). I still treasure my Wrangler shorts. They're age 13 and I only wore them a couple of times, but for some reason I hang onto them ...

I've had 5 kids since then and I can't even get them up one leg let alone two, but I firmly believe that one day I will find a use for them. Just because both my daughters turned their nose up at them doesn't mean everybody will. One day they'll be a famous family heirloom, I swear it.