Throwing my life away: hard

We’ve lived in our present house for over 24 years. Now it’s time to move and it’s a total nightmare. What to do with all the stuff that’s accumulated?

Some is impersonal but cost an arm and a leg at the time: Computer kit, cables, switch boxes, phone connectors for goodness knows how many countries. etc etc. None of it is of any use, except as a source of copper wire probably. (Unless you’re still using an IBM ThinkPad 570 – I have some useful add-ons for that. You’d better call quick though.)

Some is evidence that I existed – Caxton and BrainStorm press cuttings, my own writings and magazines edited. I mean, who cares about the physical evidence? Who cares, full stop? Apart from me. All that matters really is what’s happening today and tomorrow, not in the past.

Some is plain nostalgia – stuff from when my parents died that meant a lot to them, but not so much to me. I’ve shipped a lot of my dad’s scouting stuff to the local archives. But mum’s embroidery? Her crochet work? Sure, keep a few bits back. Give some away, then it’s off to the charity shop.

Each time I go to the recycling centre (okay, and the refuse centre next door) I feel that I am jettisoning my life, carload by carload. On the other hand, having done it, I come back lighter in spirit.

Inevitably, I’ve delayed the more precious stuff until the end. I mean, here’s an example:


It’s the instruction display panel from the first computer I ever programmed. It’s showing a divide command.

The panel was sent to me around 1980 by the boss of Mainopt, a maintenance optimisation firm which used to save companies millions by getting stuff maintained before it went expensively wrong.

I think the panel might end up glued to my coffin. It symbolises a life-changing door through which I walked on January 3rd 1966. It led to everything that’s happened, and is still happening, since.

(Before getting 100% in a programming aptitude test, I had been an ice-cream man, a bread roundsman, a trainee quantity surveyor, a packaging designer, a newspaper seller, a hospital receptionist and a menswear salesman in a department store.)

Thanks NCR and your 500 Series. Now back to the clear out. What the heck to keep?

Anyone else been there? And maybe had regrets later?

9 thoughts on “Throwing my life away: hard

  1. I have nothing useful to suggest (apart from putting that embroidery and crochet on for sale!), but I loved this post. More of the same, please!

  2. You’re very kind. Thank you.
    (For anyone that missed my earlier post, Jackie was the person who set up this TypePad account for me at the tail end of 2004.)

  3. Tossed almost an entire existence away when we moved to Spain – the only possessions we kept were those that had true meaning – the rest…well they can always be replaced.

  4. Wow. After that long, there must be plenty that had meaning that’s dissipated. I loved “I come back lighter in spirit” – not having to “have” things (that you may felt you had to have in the past) because you’re past that point, you just are who you are now. I did something similar when I left Glasgow a decade ago and have had few regrets of any of it – something like 300 videos, 200 CDs, boxes of books (they’re the toughest for me). I don’t think I’ve replaced any in that time. Best advice I could think of was getting centred/grounded first and then clearing in silence – no distractions.

  5. “It symbolises a life-changing door through which I walked on January 3rd 1966” I was 16 days old. You probably didn’t want to know that…

  6. Hi Tony. Hope you’re well.
    Thanks for the comments.
    It’s not so much ‘bought’ and ‘owned’ things that are difficult, it’s usually ‘life’ stuff. (Although I do have quite a collection of vinyl singles and LPs. I have a nasty feeling they’re not going down the tip.)
    As for your birth, seems like you were still on your way when I took the life-changing aptitude test.

  7. You’ve somehow saved part of your past thanks to this post. I’m glad Teblog continues and will enjoy the glimpses of the real David Tebbutt 😉
    Good luck with the move!

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