You might have noticed I've been a bit quiet of late. And then again, maybe you haven't. I've been busy. Very busy. And a bit stressed with it. I've just come up for air, before diving back under again.
Clearing away a person's life can be arduous, depending on the person, I suppose. I wouldn't describe my mother as a hoarder, far from it, but she knew how to fill a one-bedroom apartment with a lot of stuff which now falls to me to dispose of. To be fair, until four years ago she had a four-bedroom house with large garden and had to compress all of that into a one bedroom retirement apartment, when she moved closer to me. She tried to hang on to as much as she could during the move, the consequence being that a lot was shoved into cupboards, wardrobes, under the bed and any space she could find to house it all. I have been painstakingly going through it all over the last six weeks or so, as I have written about before.
Personal items were divided into keep, throw away or donate to charity. The same applied to furniture. With the best will in the world, I just cannot keep much of mum's furniture - my own house groans with enough as it is and, moreover, I plan to downsize myself at some point when I get too frail to manage a 6-storey house on my own. So I approached a charity to donate most of the items to them. It's all good quality stuff but "vintage", or antique even, as my mother was old school and hung on to things all her life and looked after them. However, herein hangs the tale - some of the soft furnishings do not have the up-to-date fire regulation labels so the charities are not able to accept them. They rejected a perfectly good double bed with four drawers underneath, an excellent two-seater sofa-bed, two plush armchairs the size of Narnia and 4 tapestry dining chairs. No fire regulation labels of any kind, you see, let alone up-to-date ones.
My headache began to form. How to get rid of it all? Bearing in mind, I am 67 years of age, widowed and with no muscly men (indeed no men at all) in the family to assist me, I approached the local council, as they advertise bulk refuse collections from home. For a cost of anything between £20 and £30 per item they would collect them for me. But (there's always a but) I had to put them on the kerbside for them to collect. Mum's flat is on the first floor and there's only a minuscule lift in the block. If four people stand in the lift at the same time, they get to know one another intimately. The only option is to take it down a flight of fifteen stairs. Picture how I might single-handedly get a double bed from the first floor to the kerbside. Let alone an armchair or two the size of Narnia. Everyone else in the block is elderly - it's a retirement settlement - so no help to be had there. When I put this to the man at the council, his reply was "well, we can't help you, then".
In desperation I turned to the internet and googled house clearance firms. There was a local one so I approached them. To remove five items of furniture and dispose of it on the local council dump, they quoted me £425 plus VAT. That works out at £100 an item - to throw it away! Needless to say, I told them where to go (and it wasn't exactly to the council dump). The old adage, where there's muck, there's brass springs to mind. Not that it's muck. It's all good stuff. I've had a few sleepless nights since, chewing it over and over in my head, but have now come up with a plan. With a man. And a van. He's quoted me £200 and that includes removal of a few bits of furniture back to my house as well. Problem sorted.