Just over a year ago [in May 2016], I was mindlessly watching British weekend staple viewing Sunday Brunch, and they were interviewing the author James Wallman who was plugging his book, Stuffocation: Living More with Less. By the end of the day, I’d ploughed through a good chunk of it and had one of those life changing moments.
I had way too much stuff.
One story he tells particularly resonated with me and related to the collecting of teaspoons. I thought no more of it until a week or so later when I was setting about the daunting task of packing up my house for a move. I opened my baking cupboard and started pulling things out and stacking them into ‘must keep’ and ‘must bin’ piles. I found myself sat on the floor staring a pile of 5, yes 5, quiche dishes.
To put this into perspective, I live alone, I don’t really bake and I have never made a quiche to my recollection. WTF.
Trying to make sense of this accidental hobby I didn’t realise I had, I wracked my brain trying to understand what had led to me owning 5 quiche dishes.
- Were they all mine?
- Where did they come from?
- Had I BOUGHT 5 quiche dishes at some point?
The rational was pretty simple – it was my mother’s fault. My parents, family and friends have moved house several times thoughtout my adult life, each time, clearing out and reducing their clutter. Subsequently, I have ended up the benefactor of the crap they don’t want. Not wishing to seem ungrateful, I’ve happily taken their hand-me-downs and stored them in my house. I hate waste and this obviously is the right thing to do…. collecting stuff for the time when you will need 5 quiche dishes.
It was the start of a deeply cathartic few weeks where I decluttered, chucking almost everything I owned into a large builder’s skip. All told, I stopped counting the value of the items going in the skip at £10,000 (Note: I did try to repurpose or donate loads of stuff but even charities aren’t interested in setting up cooking stores – maybe a gap in the market).
And then came the teaspoons. Same story…
It’s become a bit of a thing with me – asking people how many teaspoons they have and how many they think they need.
Last weekend when we went to stay with my parents, we counted theirs. 38. 38 that weren’t in the dishwasher. When I challenged my Mother on this, her instant reaction was “oh, don’t worry, there are more in the other room”. Say what??? This, from my highly intelligent Mother. Nothing she had to say on the matter is worth repeating because there simply is no justification for having that many teaspoons. Unless you run a restaurant or a school or a catering facility of some sort.
As we’re about to embark on a pretty long road trip living in a confined space, we’ve been looking at everything we need with military grade scrutiny. As if we have to carry it on our backs – if it’s not critical to our health and wellbeing, is it really necessary?
So how many teaspoons do we actually need? Who knows but we’re about to find out. The trick might be to stop drinking tea but we’d probably get arrested for treason.
If you want to risk reading James Wallman’s suffocation, it’s in all formats on Amazon – click here. However, I feel it only right to want you that you might end up selling up, chucking out your stuff and running away to the mountains.