6th August 2017

We have been cleaning out the kitchen cupboards, getting rid of (nearly) all those bits of kitchen equipment which have built up over the years: the blender, the bread-slicer, the coffee grinder, the excess of mugs and baking equipment and ceramic dishes. My husband wouldn’t let me throw out the deep-fat fryer, though we haven’t used it in years and are not likely to. We sorted through all our jarred things and disposed of everything that’s expired including that jar of wax beans that dated back to 2014 and I was sure we would use one day. The only cupboard that was spared was my collection of teaware and crockery, though I will have to sort that all too one day. But the best thing about having a clear out is this: it necessitated a trip to the tip.

I love the tip. The tip is the pleasantest and happiest place in the world. It is all neatly laid out and labelled like a well-used rolodex: electrical goods here, clothes and textiles there, inert waste on the other side, plastics, wood, metals. There’s even a place for asbestos, though I’ve never seen that used (thankfully). The staff are present and friendly, they love to help you find the right home for your waste and will take things for you if it’s quiet or they’re passing. Everyone is happy at the tip. I guess throwing things out has a sense of liberation to it. Where else can you toss your crockery so hard that it shatters into a multitude of pieces (except, perhaps, a Greek restaurant)? Where else can you legitimately take out all your pent-up frustration on the colander that’s been sitting on a shelf for 10 years collected dust in its holes? We toss things with flair into the far corner of the giant-sized skip, run back to the car and get more.

On the way home I was thinking up schemes that would enable us to visit the tip every week without being compelled to reduce our home to a few meagre sticks of furniture. Or maybe it would be worth it just to experience the daily pleasure of throwing things out and sharing that knowing wink with the person tossing their footspa into the small electronics bin, and the way they clap their hands together afterwards tells you that you know exactly what they’re feeling.

5th August 2017

Sitting in my living room this morning I came to a strange realisation that nothing I did mattered. It didn’t matter how many books I read or how many I didn’t. It didn’t matter how I chose them or what they were about. It is not important. It doesn’t matter if I eat chocolate for breakfast or nothing at all, or how many cups of coffee I have or how little water I drink or whether I brush my teeth or wear the same clothes day in day out. Very little is important, very little in my life anyway. I do not harm anyone. I don’t significantly change anyone’s life except, perhaps, my husband’s or my children’s and there we are so interconnected we change each other’s, and yet our lives are so small and insignificant, and have no bearing on anyone’s outside ourselves, that it’s impact is negligible. I could do anything, but by anything I mean many small things – I won’t kill anyone, or change the world, I won’t bring about social change or change our political system. So what I do matters only, really, to me. It is obvious, of course, but also liberating to think that whatever strictures I place on my life I can remove them more easily, and however I behave it impacts on barely anyone at all.

2nd August 2017

There is something wonderful about wandering the library stacks, smelling the old books and examining their myriad titles. I love making the mobile shelves move, individually or in unison, the gentle whirr of the motors puncturing the silence. There is reverence amongst the books. Somehow I never find what I’m looking for, but still. It is fun to try, fun to look and always the possibility of finding something else, something unexpected and thoroughly wonderful.