I did do some sorting out this afternoon, mostly things that Wink and I inherited from our mother and which we’ve agreed should be sold. I can’t bear to think any longer that my children will have a horrible headache over Too Much Stuff when I die, though getting the Sage to acknowledge that either of us will do so is another matter. He was enthusiastically agreeing to the sale of anything I looked at (I refrained from saying that it wasn’t up to him) as a way of not addressing the load of stuff he has that he really neither wants nor needs. The hundred or so paintings he bought without mentioning them to me over the past few years has pushed me beyond endurance however, quite apart from the things I did know about, and a major clear-out has been agreed, in principle at least.
My mother and father loved each other dearly, but had quite a volatile relationship. My mother loved drama, which my father hated, and when pushed too far he verbally exploded, although he got over it quickly. He hated being nagged (although who doesn’t?) and my mother said, but if you did what I asked at once, I wouldn’t have to say it again. And that’s a fact. “Darling, please could you?” – “You know I mentioned?” – “I hate to mention it again” – “Have you forgotten?” – “Just sodding do it, will you, like I asked three months ago and the deadline is tomorrow” – well, we all have been on both sides of that, and I honestly do try to avoid mentioning anything more than twice, but that generally just means that nothing ever gets done at all.
I’ll give you a couple of examples, although they aren’t so much actions as agreements. When Al was three years old, I raised the matter of having a third child, something that had been agreed in principle when he was born. The Sage didn’t answer. So I didn’t mention it again. When Al was seven and a half, he suggested we have another baby. Ro was born ten months after that. When our dog Simon died I wanted another dog, but the Sage looked ahead to when it would finally die and hated to think of that and preferred not to have a dog at all. It took four years before he agreed and I never mentioned the subject in that time, much as I wanted to.
I’m old now, however, and I’ve run out of time and patience. So if something doesn’t happen, I’m afraid I’m prepared to nag. Well, to mention it again, maybe two or three times, over a matter of months. But the only way I can justify expecting him to make a sacrifice is to make one at least as large myself.
I’ve turned out five boxfuls of books so far. And a whole load of silver plate. Oh, and four decanters. Well, it’s a start.