I spent last weekend emptying our sitting-room, made necessary by a slow-leaking pipe which gradually soaked the concrete under the carpet. Now we have to be dried out, with furniture put into storage. An obvious throwing-away opportunity, but it’s never easy.
And so I made a trip to the dump. I stood on the brink with boxes of stuff from my past with those mixed feelings—relief at getting rid of it and making space, and grief that this is the point of no return. If, for instance, I throw away the 20 years’ worth of photo negatives from the pre-digital era, I cannot reproduce those photos again to their original standard.
The box is thrown, the moment passes. It’s best not to think about what’s gone but just be pleased about creating space and not having to sort through that particular heap of stuff again.
At least we have a local dump. My partner Chris has drawn my attention to this extract from The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers (published 1903), where the dumping was less tidy.
Arthur Davies, owner and captain of the tiny yacht Dulcibella invites Carruthers to join him on an autumn cruise in the Baltic and instructs to bring with him a ‘No. 3 Rippingille stove’ which turned out to be ‘a formidable and hideous piece of ironmongery, which burned petroleum in two capacious tanks, horribly prophetic of a smell of warm oil.’
When Carruthers arrives on board and hands over the stove, Davies promptly installs it in the saloon and throws the old one which it had replaced overboard: ‘”There’s your stove, you see, … I’ve chucked the old one overboard.” It was a weakness of his, I should say here, to rejoice in throwing things overboard on the flimsiest pretexts. I afterwards suspected that the new stove had not been “really necessary” any more than the rigging-screws, but was an excuse for gratifying this curious taste.’
More recently, when staying on Lundy Island in 1974 with Exeter University’s Naturalists’ Society, I was dismayed to see that the trash was tipped over the edge. Now that it’s England’s first marine nature reserve, I expect things are different.
So, all in all, I’m glad of my local dump.