Life Over the past month, I've been busy with some things, primarily a life laundry in which, for various reasons, I've had a rethink of all my possessions, deciding what I truly need and what should be sent to the charity shop, recycling and refuse collectors. Over the past couple of years its become apparent that in the fifteen years since my last major clear out, the VHS apocalypse of 2003, I've accumulated again and now the internet exists with its abundant availability there's really no need to hang on to everything, that the want to have things needs to be balanced with the practicalities of psychologically having the space to move about and breath and dance.  So I drew up a set of mental rules (both meanings), ordered some new IKEA furniture and set to work.


One of the problems with books is I tend to like buying them but don't spend a lot of time reading them.  Eventually it came down to streamlining to my main interests (film, Shakespeare, Doctor Who, music I suppose, bit of fiction) and "dumping" the rest.  Plus there's trying to get away from the idea of collections.  For a few years I've been trying to build a complete collection of Doctor Who books across the various series.  Most have sat on the shelf unread.  Now they're sat on the shelf waiting to be read and then they're heading to the nearest charity shop.  The Penguin Shakespeares have just gone.  I decided to just keep the Ardens - they're more comprehensive.

I've interrogated each book with a set of questions.  Have I read you?  If I have, will I ever read you again?  If I won't is there some especially sentimental reason for keeping you.  If there isn't, enjoy the trip to the charity shop.  If I haven't, will I ever?  No?  See you.  Might I?  Welcome to the book mountain, I'll get to you once I've worked through the backlog of magazines, comics and other business.  There's something quite liberating about knowing that the books I own will the those which I truly love or found most useful.  Incidentally, I've also instituted a ban on duplicates.  All but the hardback versions of the Hitchhikers books are no longer in my possession.


This was brutal.  Deciding to keep just Empire, Sight and Sound, Doctor Who Magazine. the Shakespeare's Globe publication and Yahoo! Internet Life (due to its rarity) I've recycled the rest apart from odd issues just because and others which I've set aside for final nostalgic read (mainly some Rolling Stones and Premieres).


Mostly gone.  Nothing too spectacular and nothing which I've actually looked at in the past twenty-odd years.  Mainly UK reprints of US material although I've kept the four issues of Spider-Man about his visit to the UK to cameo on the Wide Awake Club because I don't think that's ever been reprinted or likely to.  Otherwise you don't want to know what else has gone.  It would make you cry.  Moving on.


Ha.  Well.  As I explained when I briefly surfaced for air a few weeks ago, I've thrown out my ludicrously baroque approach to cataloguing my films and whatnot in chronological order by when they're set, as detailed here.  At a certain point it became a noose and yet I continued onward, amid all the person hours, diligently attempting to find the exact dating for some off-air recording of a BBC Four documentary so it would fit in the sequence, ultimately spending more time amassing and cataloguing this material than actually bloody watching it, my bedroom filled with little boxes covered in dates, which was fun in principle but a nightmare in practice.

The process of getting to fuck it was pretty simple.  At the start of the month, when faced with all of those boxes and knowing I wanted to have less of those boxes, I simply said fuck it and got to work.  The alternative was individually deaccessioning things from the database and yes, fuck that.  I separated the films from everything else and then headed off into the everything else asking similar questions as the books, echoing the methodology.  The film and television documentaries have been retained.  Most of the art stuff.  History if it references Shakespeare or are related to the plays.  Attenborough documentaries.  If they're with/by someone who appeared in the old "talks" series on this blog, they stayed.  Bin bags filled with DVD-Rs ensued.

The films were harder.  I've kept everything, but on the proviso that no dvd retains its original packaging, slipped instead into a plastic wallet.  My four thousand odd film dvds now reside in around thirty-six of the original little boxes (pictured here) on a book case sorted alphabetically (no not the individual discs, the boxes at least).  This has the new benefit of me not having to consult a fucking database if I want to find a particular title, I can just check through the box, which is liberating.  I do still have a database listing them all, but that's mainly so that when I'm out and about I don't end up buying something I don't already own.

In case you're wondering, yes that includes Doctor Who.  A decade or so of Doctor Who dvds with just the disc and the insert retained, now sorted into thirteen or so boxes, one for each incarnation, mixed with Big Finish and AudioGo releases all in plastic wallets now too.  An extraordinary amount of space has been saved just getting rid of packaging which might look amazing on the shelf but is no use to someone who lives in a flat.  Plus it deals with the issue of spines not matching, now that there aren't any.  Take that 2Entertain.  All of this is not unusual behaviour I expect.  Anyway ...


They're still in their boxes for now, sorted in alphabetical order on the shelf.  Blu-rays always feel more fragile than DVDs, less likely to play properly even if they have a few scratches.


Like the DVDs, mostly retained but reduced to plastic wallets.  I haven't decided how to sort them yet or if I'm going to bother.  The next job will probably to go through them and add the titles to my Amazon music library.

Life Stuff.

Biggest challenge.  I set myself a target of being able to put everything life related into four bankers boxes, one each for education, work, tourism and miscellaneous (which is mainly old scripts and amateur writing).  Books filled with college notes have gone.  Ancient payslips shredded.  Pointlessly retained receipts and flyers for shows I didn't see but picked up at venues recycled.  Was an exhibition especially good and do I have fond memories?  No.  Go.  So huge was this mass of paper, I saw programmes for exhibitions which I don't even remember happening even though I probably spent hours in there.  Did I manage to reach the target?  Just about.  Knick knacks have gone into a battered old brief case because I've always wanted to do that.


Seriously people, sort through your cables.  I had a box full, most of which were for technology I'd thrown out or replaced years ago, included a parallel port printer cable from an old dot matrix printer.  No one needs that many HDMI or kettle leads or any other nonsense especially since most of it is available on Amazon for a couple of pounds, or Maplin for three times that amount.


Having already relatively recently had a necessary clear out due to losing a quarter of my body weight, this was really about storage.  After persevering with the chest of drawers which features on my Twitter profile but has never had quite the right dimensions for any of my clothes, I've replaced it with a set of KALLAX shelves from Ikea, accompanied by these DRONA boxes acting as drawers which are huge and perfect and in which everything fits.


Gone, gone, gone.  I would say I've lost about a half of my possessions so far (if you factor in all the plastic cases) with another third of the rest going, mainly the books once I've read through them.  I feel liberated having realised that I only ever re-read or rewatch about 5% of anything and that the nature of an object as a way of retaining culture has changed.  Let's see what happens in the next fifteen years.

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