It’s March and I’ve decided to get on with one of my New Year resolutions.. I am going to have my front hall properly carpeted and, in a moment of madness, I decide to include the cupboard under the stairs: The Cupboard of Doom. In October 1940, a massive bombing raid destroyed the houses opposite, so there isn’t a right-angle in the house. Try to put a nail in the walls of the Cupboard of Doom and chunks of plaster fall down. It has housed at least four sets of gas and electricity meters, plus pipes and wiring and there are holes everywhere. The cupboard door doesn’t fit and icy draughts whistle under it in winter.
Looking into the Cupboard of Doom
Heaven knows what’s in the depths of the cupboard. I certainly don’t. However, it’s got to be cleared in time for The Carpet. I begin to think that must be mad. Why did I ever start this? I put on my oldest jeans, T-shirt and bath cap (there are spiders’ webs) and track down my mother’s old garden kneeler.
What is this?
Things emerge I’ve never seen before. What on earth is this? It has Primus stamped on it. How does it work? I haven’t a clue. I put it aside to be washed. It can go to Oxfam labelled ‘possible Primus attachment’ and they can sort it out.
Old portable lamp – front
And this? I found it in the attic of my first house. It’s a portable oil/paraffin lamp with white glass at the front and red at the back. There’s a small box for the fuel with the wick still in place. There’s also a hook which slots into something. Is it an early bicycle lamp? A railway lamp? I have no idea.
Old portable lamp – back. Note small box for fuel and wick.
I start chucking stuff out: solidified tins of paint, bags of musty compost, a dustpan and brush clogged with cement, an old mop. Other stuff goes into my Oxfam pile: old moped accoutrements and a lampshade. My son says ‘Yes’ to a barbeque kit; a friend would like the spare bike chain.
The front room is invaded by Stuff
Things I want to keep (two tools boxes and garden things) go into the kitchen to be washed or dusted. Soon, I can’t see the kitchen table and the room turns into the Kitchen of Doom. Stuff I can’t make my mind up about goes into the front room. This room has never really recovered from the house being re-wired about ten years ago. I also put coats and jackets from the hall there. They too must be cleared for the laying of the carpet. It becomes the Front Room of Doom.
I am starting to panic.
Preparing to do some hole-filling
I buy two pots of ready-made Polyfilla and try to stop feeling like a wimp – I should have bought the powder and mixed it myself.. I go into ‘Sod it!’ mode. Some of the cupboard holes are so big that it takes several goes to fill them. I think about putting up a few more nails but stop when yet more plaster falls down. Still, I manage to put up a couple of hooks under the wooden shelf.
Tim the carpenter trims the cupboard door
The day comes. The carpet men arrive. An hour or so later, it’s done. A carpenter comes to trim the cupboard door and, for the first time since 1940, miraculously, it fits! I hang coats and jackets back up in the hall. Shiny tool boxes return to the cupboard shelves and I can see the kitchen table top again.
The Cupboard of Doom is now more or less sorted. It will never be a thing of beauty but at least I know what’s there and can get to it. The holes have been filled and the draughts have almost gone. And it now has a carpet. It looks so much better.
My Tai Chi teacher says you should clear out old stuff to make space for good luck to come into your life and I realize that I feel both virtuous and somehow emotionally lighter. We shall see!
Please share this page...