movers and shakers

You used to be able to go to Woolworths and buy a small device which allowed you to convert a wine bottle into a table lamp. To make this lamp, you would take your bottle - perhaps one of those Chianti bottles, the kind with raffia - because it looked "continental", and stick the socket gadget in the mouth of the bottle. Having bought a cheap lampshade or made one from a wire framework and covered it yourself with decorations, you would give it pride of place in your sitting room; a room that hitherto had one incandescent bulb in the ceiling, and perhaps a "standard" lamp.

This sitting room comprised a sofa, two arm chairs, a mirror, one solitary ornament of no discernable style, one picture and perhaps a radiogram. That was it. In the 1960s, the period I am on about, life was remarkably uncluttered. I forgot to mention; in order to display this table lamp, you then had to get yourself a small table, or place it on something we called a sideboard. This was the beginning of the DIY era, a left-over from the austerity of make do and mend of the war. This was done from necessity and because we began to be aspirational middle classes.

Move forward 30 or so years and we find ourselves knee deep in ..well..clutter. All my aspirations have not only been fulfilled, they are now trying to subsume me.

As I write, I sit in my study, surrounded by boxes (partly due to last month's move). These boxes contain "things we might need", or remnants of projects or things that were on sale at the time and seemed like a good idea. You know what I mean?

The news this week that Tesco, a sort of commercial Big Brother who loves you, has gone into partnership with Safestore, a self-storage company. Self-storage is not something you would have heard about 30 or 40 years ago. If you needed to store something in the 1950s or 60s, it was probably because you were joining the Colonial Service, in which case, Pickfords would collect it from you. Otherwise, you literally had no reason to store anything, for, you did not have clutter.

Safestore began in 1998 with three properties. It now has 90 throughout the UK. It is practically recession proof, for even in these difficult times, people need to store things, sometimes, as an alternative to renting commercial space.

I blame IKEA. IKEA is the Noughties equivalent of the Barry Bucknall 50's DIY era. From it, and its siblings, such as B&Q or Dobbies, we transport huge quantities of stuff. Things that seem useful or decorative or provide a "solution" as they seem to say in the trade.

Which sort of brings me to the point. A few weeks ago, I revealed that one of our cars is a Peugeot Partner Combi - basically a van with carpets. They all do them - Citroen, Renault, Fiat, Vauxhall, Mercedes - all of them. Furthermore, they are now hugely popular. Why then, apart from a niche market for wheelchair users, are these vehicles so popular? I think you need look no further than a weekend at IKEA, watching tired couples struggling with their Gorms, their Ektorps and their Billys. We are the clowns of convenience. We scurry to and fro and make our nests. We are a nation of movers and shakers, and nothing is going to stop us.

Have a nice weekend.


Ruth@VS said...

Very true, and I speak as a hoarder who keeps things in case they may be useful later. Of course, lack of money tends to effectively declutter your life - when I left my well paid job to go it alone I suddenly discovered I needed less "stuff" than before! Maybe poverty is the answer...

Joe said...

When I was househunting I noticed that lofts in OAP's houses were usually empty as they didn't have stuff in the loft that might come in handy. They had what they needed.
We used to take those Chianti bottles to shool and cover them in polyfilla before sticking shells onto them. Totally cool with a candle in them or a cheap lamp shade !

Joe said...

Oops. For shool read school : )
Never did pass my English O level.