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Donkin's World: You Never Know, It Might Come In For Something

"Yes there are times - not many - when a hoard fulfills its raison d'etre,'' reports Richard Donkin.

Gill is a hoarder. I hoard a bit myself although I'm fighting it because hoarding is frowned upon in the new wave of minimalist thinking dominating the lifestyle magazines. That aside, when you start to fall over clutter, it's really time to get rid.

I've been chucking stuff out lately, including a stash of empty jam jars. Then, earlier this week, we made chutney from all our green tomatoes. "I told you not to throw those jars away," she said, while producing a "stand by" stash from God knows where that saved the day. "Lucky I had these," she said. Lucky indeed.

Yes there are times - not many - when a hoard fulfills its raison d'etre. Youngest son George has just moved in to student digs in Southsea. His bed is in what most northerners would know as the "front room" and what southerners reared on Enid Blyton would call the sitting room. The room has a tall bay window which, before today, had no curtains.

Ordinarily Gill is a normal woman going about her everyday business, but when one of her sons activates the hoard button she's into the nearest telephone box changing in to her supermum kit. As soon as she saw that curtainless window she was heading for the attic faster than the speed of light, rummaging among the suitcases of old denim, toys, ice skates and cigarette cards, until she found what she was looking for - a box containing brand new curtains, circa 1979, bought in a Batley mill sale for 3.50. Now that's what you call value.

We never used them as, even for the 1970s they were a bit jazzy, but now they look quite retro, says George who texted his mum to say they were "ace". And that made her day.

"I've been waiting 30 years for this moment," she said, beaming with fulfillment. I suppose it's a good news story but it's bad news too. Meeting her son's need in this way has justified all Gill's hoarding over all those years. We'll never throw anything away again.

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