After several years, I’ve got around to clearing out decades of accumulated stuff stored in my cellar (for one thing, I need the room for more things!). But what to keep? And what to throw?

I found a dozen or so old postcards from Birgit’s many holidays, which will go alongside the letters we used to write to each other when we were students. Same with all the other letters, postcards, Christmas and birthday cards. The floppy discs full of 10-year-old software can go in the bin  – that’s a gimme. But I also found my old holiday cards! Now, of course they’ve gone into the bin; but those cards contained the time off work that I had the first time I went on holiday with Tracy, the time I went to visit Birgit in Germany and the first time I stayed over at Emma’s. In themselves, the cards are insignificant, but the memories they brought up gives them some value in my mind.

As I work through the various crates, folders and boxes, I find more things that are going into the bin that remind me of events; like finding a large notepad that I was using in August, September and October 1986, covering my transition from schoolkid to undergraduate. Nothing ‘big’ in it, but still a reminder of those days. Every time, the hand hovers… keep it or lose it?

I suppose, though, that it’s like a woodland fire; you have to lose some of the old stuff in order to let new memories in. My affection for Birgit and Pam and others isn’t reduced by the small numbers of times we see each other these days, or write or email; and junking some of the papers, leaflets, brochures and the like isn’t going to negate the last 20 years and make them fade into oblivion. If something’s important, you carry it within you anyway.