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Useful And Fantastic: Hoarding

Hoarding may turn out to be our future salvation, says Val Yule.

Hoarding is popularly said to be a problem of our age, but it may turn out to be tomorrow’s salvation. And it isn’t the problem of our age – which is acquiring what you do not need.

Psychologists are now treating victims of Compulsive Hoarding Disorder, people who cannot get rid of belongings until the belongings take over their homes, and even spill into their front gardens. They are few, but spectacular. A professor in America specialises in the psychology of hoarding.

The greater problem are those who have the first step in this disorder, Compulsive Buying Disorder, and then throw out the back door so much that the home is practically bare. Contrast the cluttered Victorian home with their energetic inventive inhabitants, with the elemental simplicity of the homes advertised in estate agents’ billboards, and the passive dwellers in them, constantly having to buy anew what they threw out before.

Look at paintings of old interiors – the kitchens full of life not a laboratory, the ‘parlours’ with the ancestors on the walls and the curiosities on ‘whatnots’. Yes, it does mean more dusting, but they are much more fun to live with than stripped almost bare walls and rooms.

Bare simplicity is a problem as well as a fashion in today’s libraries and museums. Chucking out is excessive, as the past simply disappears.

I don’t know if there is a professor in America specialising in the psychology of throwing out.

The solution to both ends of this disorder, Buying so much and Keeping so much, is to buy only what you need. This will upset our present economy, but it is time we moved to another economy, that did not waste so much of our resources to make unused goods that get thrown out, and human-power, in selling them.

If you don’t buy what you don’t want, and keep what you buy, then you are a heroine of the past, and of the future.

Today’s throwaway culture buys what it doesn’t want and throws out everything as clutter. People throw out the other half of the loaf after they’ve made today’s sandwiches because tomorrow the loaf will be ‘inedible’ . . . yet if they don’t like toast, there are dozens of recipes to use up that bread, and ways to store the crumbs and rusks.

I don’t like to throw out perfectly good things that do ‘come back’ in style and other things that come in handy, and books and books and books that I often reach for and look up something in. You use your mind when you hoard. You have to be able to find what you have hoarded or it is wasted.

It is a bother when moving, admittedly – you have to have a garage sale. But hoarding means you don’t have to buy anything more than once. People come to you for what they need, because they have thrown it out.

A cluttered home is so much more interesting than house which is an empty as an estate agent’s dream.

Now I will take out of my cupboard the hoarded Christmas decorations and my National Gallery of old Christmas cards so beautiful and funny that I make a display of them along my bookshelves every Christmastide, adding to
it every year.

There is no need to write more words on something than are needed and so I will stop now.


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