Bags of bags

27 Oct

It is surely one of the saddest tasks in life to go to ones parents home for that final clear-out after they have died. Almost everything one touches has a memory attached to it.

It’s over three years now that that task had to be undertaken and there are still several boxes in the garage of things which no one in the family wanted, and we don’t have room for, but which are simply too hard to take to the tip.

My Mum, in particular, was brought up as a part of the make-do-and-mend generation. A child in the harsh years of the 1920’s and 30’s and a teenager during the war years made thrift not just an ideal but a necessity.

I remember the afternoon when, taking a deep breath, I decided to tackle ‘under the stairs’. This was a seemingly black hole where things disappeared for storage never to see the light of day again but which might, just might, as she used to say, ‘do a turn, someday’.

I found a block of table salt, stored since the ‘salt crisis’ of the mid 1970’s when as a joke someone on the Jimmy Young show said the salt miners in Siberia had gone on strike and there might be a shortage.

Yet it was the two huge black bags, sealed but bulging which caught my interest most. I dragged them out. The bags were light. Was this where Mum stored all the notes she didn’t trust the bank with? Was this the fabled inheritance?

You might guess that as I’m writing this as the Rector of Bridport, it was not. It was bags of bags. Thousands of paper and plastic bags from a variety of stores, a unique collection of ephemera of early Carrefour, Tesco and the Co-op. As she’d say, ‘you never know when a bag might come in useful’.

I don’t know what she would make of the new rules about bags, but I do know if I could have got 5p for each one she had I be writing this from somewhere warm.