I cleared out more than just old junk from the loft the other day.
An unwelcome task, which had been put on hold over the years, as other more important and interesting chores pushed their way to the fore. Finally, the urgent need for dates stretching back decades ensured there was no further postponement. After all the embassy required certain information to procure the passport.
My heart sank a little as I donned my cleaning garb of oldest tracksuit bottoms, worn jumper and gardening coat. Why did I leave this to cold autumn days, why had I failed to take advantage of the warm light of summer? At last with old trainers on and a bucket of clean water on standby at the bottom of the rickety ladder, I headed into the darkness of the attic. I pulled the light cord and a satisfying twang later the space beneath the roof was alight in all its messy fusty glory.
As ever awed by quite how much stuff accumulated over the years I gritted my teeth, clambered up, spotting spider webs in the darkest recesses. Was there time to scamper down to fetch a shower cap for my hair? Would goggles over my glasses be an idea? As excuses flitted around the edge of my attention, I set to the task with intense vigour.
Quickly any misgivings were replaced with excitement; a treasure hunt into my past. Boxes were shifted and sifted through with speed. The ones behind me to be hauled downstairs, the rest to be left for another day. Only two or three boxes were supposed to make it to daylight, yet ten found their way to my studio.
The dust and grit from the loft followed me, a hazy cloying musty cloud hung around my body like an unkempt aura! Once outside I beat the muck out of my clothes and performed an unceremonious jig on the patio, ruffling my hair as it was released from the confines of the green silk bobble!
Surprisingly it wasn’t the major items, the most vital papers, which reached into my heart that day of sorting, of tidying. The smallest, most insignificant objects tugged my emotions in a most unexpected manner.
I laughed out loud as my old troll sought to escape the confines of the box, its vibrant orange hair tousled, the white knitted dress shimmering with a light coating of grey dust. Yet its eager cheeky smile was intoxicating and I realised how much I missed my friend! Not to be abandoned again, my old / new friend stands proudly by my computer screen. Did I see it shift its feet to take a peek at my writing?
My brother’s green Morgan toy car skidded out of another box and landed with aplomb upon the carpet, the thick pile an impediment to any further forward motion. How had I ended up with this toy? Was it from our childhood, or more likely he lent it to my son during one of our visits.
In an instant I’m bombarded with such strong sensations I reel backwards, luckily sitting comfortably in my chair. Our childhoods, those of our children inextricably intertwined.
My next discovery leaves me beaming away as my head is filled with music. A badge lies proudly on my desk and I remember with joy and glee of being one of the first worldwide members of the Bucks Fizz fan club. With my two best friends we listened avidly to their music, devoured the club magazines, pinned up the signed group photographs, practised the dances endlessly. The sense of freedom, lightness, the sense of unhampered possibilities soared within me.
My greatest moments of enlightenment, such was the power and revelation, were reserved for the perusal of my folders.
Years and years of study notes, essays, so much work safely secured inside the multicoloured array of folders. So many courses, most forgotten, some seared into my heart. Keats was an immediate love and one not forgotten, but who was Bruckner? The Russian translations had me in shock, how did we go from knowing no Russian to translating Dickens into Russian and reading Chekov in the original language in less than a year? Recycling bag after recycling bag was stuffed full whilst empty boxes were tossed outside onto the lawn.
I saved the oldest of boxes for last. These I wanted to savour and wow, I was in for a treat! My passion for writing and literature started young I recalled, but my absolute love and dedication was a revelation. Collecting quotes I thought was a new pastime for me from my early days of blogging. Not the case as I discovered tiny cards with quotations on one side, the source on the other side. All neatly placed in a small box. The inherent wisdom of these floored me. I was barely fourteen.
Alongside these were pages of notes for my handmade magazine. In-depth articles researched, written, edited and finally published. ‘The Peripheral’ was my first foray into self-publishing.
Scattered loosely within a folder was a German magazine that featured articles about life, our hopes for 2025, our many fears but also beliefs that life would get better. On smaller A5 yellow sheets of paper the wise words of Socrates copied out in hand. Bless. How earnest was my young heart and soul? Bless it for caring so much.
The other day I cleared out not only my loft but also the cynicism and pessimism of modern life. I trashed my acceptance of life now; I threw away my belief that things can’t be better. I refreshed my soul with the beauty of youth, innocence and trust in people, a future, of humanity. I chucked out the ‘I can’ts’ with the exuberance of childhood ‘I cans’ and why not! It seemed so easy and free then.
They say I thought too much as young. I realise that was true to an extent … but the thoughts were on the wings of my heart flying high. Over the years my thoughts would dominate, take over and gradually dampen the imagination and carefree wonder of the world and all its magic.
A magic rediscovered in the loft amongst my musty dusty belongings. A magic released into the world!
Many thanks to my mother for finding this photo! Here my troll, with some aid from myself, is playing the piano at my kindergarten/pre-school!