So last Sunday, I had arranged to meet up with my siblings and go through some stuff we have in these garages with a view to throwing some stuff out and perhaps reducing the garages from two to one.  Apart from the financial saving of only have one garage (and 9 storage containers, and a basement, and a loft and every available nook and cranny, and the second bedroom in my flat) the garage in question leaks, so everything in there is already kind of ruined and miserable anyway.  I had shuffled stuff around when I realised, and had a word with the people who own the garage, and basically, the situation didn’t improve so everything that didn’t spoil was in that one.

Still, it seems to me like we have a lot of stuff we aren’t using or needing, and any clearout is a good thing.  My family disagreed, but what can you do, I gave them notice, asked them for assistance and felt like the stuff in these two garages were things that either we wanted to use, or that needed throwing out.  It was cold on Sunday (of course after two glorious weeks, the day we are going to be outside all afternoon is cold).  At least it wasn’t raining, and that is a very good thing because in order to get into the garages, a lot of things had to be taken out.  In the first garage, we had not one but two old prams blocking the path to the end of the space.  These had to be rolled out and left in the middle of the road.  They are pretty majestic these prams.  They are full on old-fashioned silver cross prams.  And we have two.  One double which my brother, cousins and I all shared and one single for when I was an only child for a few months. (Ah the memories…)


There are two…


They are obviously and sadly falling apart at the moment.  The body of the pram is attached to the wheels with a leather strap which has disintegrated over the years, and obviously they need a good spit and polish.  Nannie used to spend hours on those prams.  You know how chauffeurs are always outside tinkering with the cars?  That was Nan with the prams.  We never went out with the wheels muddy or if the spokes weren’t gleaming.  She used to oil the leather straps religiously.  The upkeep and maintenance of those prams was a near full time occupation.  Now they sit in a garage in North London, neglected and forgotten.  It is quite sad.  I have suggested we repair and sell them.  Obviously this suggestion has been met with the usual comments about how heartless and unaware of the history and tradition of the prams I am. 

I am aware of the history.  I am aware of the tradition.  I am aware of the sentimental value of having two prams that so many of my family members have sat in as children.  I am aware that these prams are now falling apart and if I repair them now I am signing up to a lifetime of pram maintenance in the garage.  Mostly I am aware that none of us live in houses where such a pram would be able to be used practically.  These prams are for houses with long driveways and doors that lead straight into the house.  They are for country estates where the Norland Nanny walks the children in the fresh air and then parks the pram in the stables.*  They are not for two bedroom apartments in Cricklewood, or even 4 bedroom ones near Regent’s Park.  They aren’t for semi-detached houses in Barnes or Neasden.  And, as majestic as they are, they are no longer practical.  For example:  Once, when D was little, she and Nannie set off one afternoon to go to our local high street.  About 15 minutes after they had left, the sky went dark and a thunderstorm of biblical proportions made its presence known.  Thunder was the one thing that made Nannie nervous.  Mum and I got into the car to bring them home.  What we forgot was that they had the big pram with them.  What ended up happening was that Nannie and D got into the car, and I ended up pushing the empty pram back in the pouring rain.  So all’s well that ends well, Nannie and baby are safe and dry and I am pushing a lightning conductor back through a tree lined road with no rain protection but my (as it turns out) non waterproof raincoat.  See what I mean about practicality?  I am sure though that there are families with the big country homes and the Norland Nannies that are prepared to love and care for these prams.  My family are having none of it.  The prams are staying.

So we moved them out of the way, and we found all of these boxes containing bombonieres from every wedding and christening we have ever been to since 1968. Silver dishes, silver eggs, china  and bronze ashtrays, silver boxes,all with sugared almonds of varying decay in, and all completely useless. Boxes and boxes of LPs that my parents lovingly bought and played.  We don’t even own a record player at the moment, but the records are living in the garage waiting for us to see the light and realise that vinyl is the only way to listen to real music and bring them all home (possibly to replace the albums which make the piano look uncomfortable) and play them.  There were six boxes of them. Then there were four boxes labelled Maria – Crockery.  There were about 30 speakers of different sizes.  There are four boxes of – I kid you not – Christmas crockery.  Not to mention two air-conditioning units, five large fans, four enormous filing cabinets (full of photos and videos) and other sundry items (including a partridge in a pear tree one assumes).  All these things are in the garage I want to keep.  But I needed room in that one for the stuff I wanted to keep from the other garage…  I know, I know, #firstworldproblems, but really, I feel like I am dragging this stuff around on my shoulders all the time and I thought that getting rid of some stuff would be a liberating experience.

Some things were easy to get rid of.  We had in the garage about 5 large boxes that were full of… boxes.  So once we had gotten rid of our Russian dolls of cardboard boxes, we had a little wiggle room.  There were several boxes labelled – D – Crockery. 

“What do you want to do with these D?”

“Can we keep them here?  It’s crockery for when I am a grown up.”

“Er – that ship has sailed already sweetheart.  You’re 27.”

“No I mean it’s for when I’m in my own home.  Can we just keep it here?”

After that, when we came across the boxes that were labelled Maria – Crockery,  I had to man up.  I am a grown up.  I am in a home of my own.  I felt it was probably time to open the ‘grown up’ crockery and see if I liked it.  If I didn’t, I could take it to the local charity shop and it would be someone else’s grown up crockery.  Using this principle, we put all the boxes that had my name on them in the pile to come home with me.  The pile mounted.  J suggested we go through all the LPs and sell them.  Of course, that involves a certain amount of organisation that we were all aware of.  This is how the conversation went.

Me:        “Look at all these records.  We’re never going to listen to them; we don’t even have a record player.”

J:             “We could put them on ebay and sell them.”

A:            “Someone would have to go through them all, photograph them etc.”

D:            “Who’s going to put them all on ebay?”

Long pause.  I tried not to say anything.  I really did.

Me:        “I suppose I could go through them and put them on e-bay.”

J:             “Great.  A, let’s move all the boxes with records in to the Maria’s house pile.”


As it turns out, we have almost everything ever recorded by Marinella and as much Nana as you can handle.


The Maria’s house pile got larger and larger.  There were so many boxes that had my name on them and I had no idea what was in them.  On the plus side, there were also 3 large boxes with all of our board games in them.  They went on the pile for home too.  We were a big board game-playing family growing up and many an evening was spent with friends and family around our kitchen table playing/cheating/screaming at each other. Those boxes I brought home with pleasure.   In the boxes were all the old favourites: trivial pursuit: adult, family, junior and Disney versions, Pictionary, articulate, taboo, scrabble, monopoly – basically my whole childhood and young adulthood in 3 boxes. 

For the rest, I convinced the others to part with all of the speakers that we found, (which my brother-in-law, A had asked us to keep, but now realised that he didn’t need 30 speakers cluttering up his house), we got rid of a door (random, and surely one of us would have missed it by now if we needed it?)  Also, a huge old fashioned trunk sat in the corner rusting nicely. I convinced them to let it go.  After all, should we ever need to hide a body, I am sure we can buy a new trunk.  

There was also a drawer full of doorknobs and door plates.  As I took a breath to utter the words: “Well that can go”, D came in and said:

“Oh my goodness!  I remember these!  I am all choked up, they remind me of the old house!  We’re not getting rid of them are we?”

“Of course not darling.  Let’s take them to the other garage.”

So there were some things we decided to keep and others that I was able to cull.  We loaded up the cars and brought about 16 boxes back to the house.  Every time I feel like I have a handle on the boxes, we get another influx.

I emptied the crockery ones right away.  They were full of lidded serving dishes and gravy boats.  I mean how many gravy boats does one woman need?  I have a veritable fleet of the things.  From now on, every meal I ever prepare will have to come with some sort of gravy/jus/sauce/condiment. Otherwise, maybe we should just start eating out of the gravy boats.  I suppose we could use them as jelly moulds or something…. Or mugs.  However you look at it, there is no reason for one woman to have 10 gravy boats and 10 milk jugs.  Still though, these I have dutifully put into a cupboard (heretofore to be labelled useless kitchen equipment) along with my 6 lidded serving dishes, my 25 egg cups (I hate boiled eggs) and my 40 or so soufflé dishes.  One day, I will have some sort of event at home which will necessitate these things – possibly a sports day where we do the egg-and-cup-race followed by the running-very-fast-with-a-full-gravy-boat race and round it all off with a balancing-atop-a-tower-of-soufflé-dishes competition.  I feel that these could become Olympic sports eventually.


The fleet

So after having spent the last week cataloguing records and checking to see if they are scratched/damaged etc but unable to play them, I am ready to unleash them on some poor unsuspecting vinyl dealer.  He or she – I am sure – will not be able to wait to get his hands on one of the last remaining copies of “Knuckles” O’Toole goes South of the Border –  a snazzy compilation of Cha chas, Mambos and Merengues.



Heaven help me, this journey is just beginning.


*We didn’t grow up in a house in the country with stables, by the way.  But we did have a door leading into the house from the garden, and someone who was dedicated to the maintenance of the prams, so the prams were used a lot.