Basement clearing

Underground in Kensington, just off the Fulham Road. A regularly flooded basement. The lights are all shorted. A storeroom.

This store is below the functioning office of an old friend. Back just after I left Guildhall I worked there on a temp basis from time to time. Phoning newspapers for back-issues. Changing the ink on the franking machine. Curating the mailing lists. Doing the office things. I didn’t last long. I don’t, in offices. They would get me to do the dull practical things, as often as not. And one December I was detailed to make sense of the storeroom.

Back then it was full of samples. I organised it all and made it look current. Everything was easy to access. I was proud of the work I did. It was better than I ever do at home, because it was for somebody else and I was being paid.

I was back there today. Sure, it’s been over fifteen years. But nothing remained of my attempt at sorting. All the things were different. Nothing made sense. Much of it was more personal to my friend than the stuff I had sorted. Desperate mice had eaten anything soft. It was pitch black. My friend runs a company from the building, but her life things have crept into this store over the years. We were trying to sort it all out but it’s not just one day’s work.

The best things in there are prams and car seats. She kept all her good quality baby stuff against someone needing it, but they haven’t. It’s time to move it all on. I might end up putting it on eBay for them, but the old attributed value thing is coming up again: “That thing is worth loads of money!” “Here are three examples of it getting no bids on eBay starting as low as 0.99p.” “eBay is the wrong place to sell it then.”

To an extent, yes. But we can spend our lives getting a few bob more for things, or we can just roll them over into somebody else’s life where they will have use. Every generation keeps stuff and passes it down. The exit generation kept furniture and plates. Our lot are keeping lots of digital assets which are going to be tomorrow’s nightmare. Grandpa’s bitcoin. Uncle’s Magic the Gathering account…

I’ll be as useful as I can be for her. We threw a lot in the bin. It felt good doing it. There’s loads more to throw and it might be good to try and sell some of it – even though there’s not much value. Time is always the thing. These things take time to list. Often you just have to throw in the towel and accept that life is more interesting than getting maximum value from things and bits. I pay over three quid for a coffee all the time. I’m getting ripped off for everything from power to water. Maybe someone with a new baby will be thrilled to get a decent car seat for very little. Anyone want to buy a car seat? Sometimes you are better off saying goodbye to the stuff and hello to the space… I’m convincing myself here…

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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