The big old clear out – By @_sarahalliday

By Sara Halliday


The big old clear out

Look, I’m not a tidy person. I am comfortable with a level of mess which annoys others, and this makes me a bit of a nightmare to live with. Looking around my immediate surroundings I see three empty mugs, two plates, an empty box of croissants from Boxing Day. And that’s just on the table next to me. I think back to the Facebook brief, working with poor long-suffering Jonno. He remarked on a daily basis that it was getting ‘a bit messy on the desk’. At home, my fiancées main cause of celebration is when I put my ‘pile’ away (floordrobe holla).

Call me what you will, (I’ll answer to both trash queen or squalor princess) but 2018 is a new year. I’m going to go into the year with a sense of calm, a touch of serenity, and the smell of Mr Muscle. I’ve read Marie Kondo’s ‘Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ in preparation, and I feel like I’m ready.

First, clothes. I’m not a huge hoarder of clothes, but I swear I had less than this. I did a big sort out before moving to Brixton, but my predilection for ASOS Premier has caught up with me. I throw out two pairs of tights with ladders in, two pairs of trousers which have been torn by overzealous cat claws, and a jumper with a mysterious green stain. 10 minutes are spent trying to identify said stain. My best guess is a particularly oily pesto experience. I vow to be more careful in 2018. The drawers shut more smoothly than before, and the whole experience feels like a metaphor for my life.

Next, papers. We were told towards the start of the SCA not to throw any scamps away. I took this to mean ‘DO NOT THROW AWAY ANYTHING TOUCHED BY THE HOLY SHARPIE, FOR IT MAY HOLD YOUR FUTURE CAREER SUCCESS’. I doubt that these will, to be honest. I save a few which make me smile, and the others go to the recycling bin. The sweet feeling of catharsis spreads like a drug. What if I become addicted to throwing things away. I’ll have nothing left. I will live in a white box. I remind myself that I’m a trash queen, and that trash queens are rarely satisfied with minimalist existences.

Packaging, boxes. I seem to keep a lot of boxes. I think it comes from spending a large amount of time with a cat. Whenever I go to throw one away she looks at me with these eyes, pleading not to throw away her home. To this day I’m convinced that I got into the SCA by telling Marc about my cardboard box habits. He asked me what the last creative thing I did was, and was probably expecting me to say I wrote a poem or painted a picture. Instead I told him in great detail about the two story cat mansion I made from cardboard boxes. It had functioning windows, a drawbridge which lowered onto the sofa, a fully tiled roof, and a maze of trapdoors which allowed access between the levels. It was a bit much. Anyway, boxes. I cut them down and collapse them, more unexpectedly satisfying tasks. If all else fails I’ll work in a box factory. I could call myself a boxer. I remember doing the shoebox appeal at Primary School. There was something quite enchanting with the possibilities for an empty box. It could be filled with so much, and I used to try out as many combinations as possible to find the optimum arrangement. The leaflet we got before starting used to say ‘no guns, war-related toys, or toy weapons’, I remember finding that interesting. As though an 11 year old from Carmarthen would be sending an AK47.

I hate the #newyearnewme thing. The old me was fine, 2018 me will also be fine. One day in an arbitrary calendar is not that different to the one before. Nevertheless, a declutter has occurred. I enjoyed it more than I expected, and while I’m not making any promises that it’ll change my very way of existing, it has made me mindful that I’m not the only one having to exist in this space. A nice lesson to end the year on.

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