Erikka Askeland: Why packing up is hard to do

Errika Askeland. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Errika Askeland. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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IT SEEMS for weeks I have been surrounded by a growing number of boxes. Their proliferation has been slow but sure as they consume the comfort blanket of clutter that surrounds me at home.

It is a bit surprising I haven’t missed anything as each book and picture and nicknack has been wrapped and put away and then stacked in a corner.

Life has been running its course pretty smoothly without the extra tackle. There was maybe only just the one evening when it would have been handy to be able to access some particular reference material, as there are still some subjects that remain resistant to Google.

Mainly these were somewhat obscure debates about aspects of the civil war we were having a discussion about. That’s just how we roll.

But frankly, I’ve been thinking – what do I need all this stuff for?

Wouldn’t it be easier to just bulldoze it all into a field somewhere, just in time for Bonfire night, douse it with paraffin then walk away as the embers are dying? I’d be free and unencumbered. Just me – and my phone, and my laptop.

Except I’d make sure to take my handy penknife – you never know when you might need to cut an avocado or use those tiny little tweezers.

Oh, and I would have to make sure I have my passports. Then there’s a few books and CDs I’d just hate to part with. And I quite like the espresso machine. The hi-fi is good quality so I should probably hang on to that.

Oh, and the clothes. You can’t go about naked you know, winter is coming. That includes the shoes of course – trainers for the commute, heels for the office. Boots for hiking in the country and for windy days in the city. Wellies, of course, too.

We do live in the UK after all.

So that’s why there are so many boxes. Yet I was certain that when I first moved here, everything I had fit into two suitcases.

All of this is because we are moving house. Which is a pain. Although the decluttering is a useful rite of passage to subject yourself to every few years or so. We all know that possessions are burdens we collect, having mistook them for happiness.

But as my mum said on the phone the other day, as I attempted to explain my urge to purge, you get to an age where you can actually, genuinely appreciate the things you have. As usual, mum is right (and I’m getting older).

By moving house we are moving away. As such, this is the last column I will write in this space.

The Man in My Life and I are relocating to Aberdeen, where the streets are paved with North Sea oil and which most people insist is the sunniest place in the UK, but also the windiest.

I have greatly enjoyed the writing and the feedback I have received from some readers during my time here. Most of it has been funny, touching and truly informative.

There was the man who wrote in to correct my perception that, having shaken Princess Anne’s hand, her mitt was “tiny and delicate as a sparrow”. Not so, he wrote, because having met her in Birmingham he found her hands were more like sturdy iron shovels, a characteristic of which she was quite proud having been a serious equestrian all her life.

So I correct the record now.

I also loved the woman who wrote to me about my column on how people on the autistic spectrum have increasingly recognised talents. Her granddaughter had recently been diagnosed and she said it gave her comfort, and she thanked me.

I was even pleased with the responses posted on the online message boards when I confessed my ambivalence for playing Scrabble.

Some were a little insulting – one wrote that the article was “vapid, self indulgent, pablum from a self-regarding prima donna, whose word-smithing is mediocre at best” – but the slanging was so painstakingly grammatically correct, it brought a smile to my face. (Although I daresay the writer used one too many commas.)

To the chap, however, who called me “a very stupid woman”, because I criticised sexism in the Scottish golf game, I would say you are not alone but eventually (spoiler alert) the dinosaurs die out.

For all of you who have persisted in reading through my odd ramblings and come back for more, I would like to extend my thanks.

It has been a great privilege to fill this space.