It started off fairly innocuously. These things usually do. "I'll just nip to B&Qs and get a bag of gravel and get the hyacinths in." I refuse to pot them up in compost anymore, as I'm sick of hoovering around the window ledges each spring. And of course, last year at my farming neighbour's New Year's party everyone admired the artful glass cubes of spring bulbs planted in green glass chippings. I wasn't the only one who wondered if she'd raided the local cemetery, either. I dropped the bag of small white gravel onto one of the garden benches, because there wasn't enough space in the outhouse.
I usually move into the outhouse at this time of year; hanging and plucking pheasants from the rafters, rummaging around the freezers for soft and top fruit for weekend crumbles, and potting up bowls of spring bulbs because I like to stack and store my compost in the dry. Also its usually raining most days and I hate to stop gardening just because it's raining.
The outhouses have accumulated no end of rammel over this summer, and I'm not really sure why. A little fellow further along the road discovered Beloved Firstborn's childhood store of plastic weapons earlier this year whilst his mum and I bent over the freezers looking for fish heads. Emerging triumphantly some minutes later, we turned around to find said little fellow sitting captivated in the middle of the floor surrounded by vintage Star Wars crap; spud guns; catapults; AK47s; assorted handguns including Smith and Wessons; multiple pump action shotguns, and at least one "Uzi 9mm." You can try as hard as you like to give your little boy wooden swords and bows and arrows from the Early Learning Centre. At some point he will return fully loaded from a shopping trip to Toys R Us with a sniggering maternal uncle.
The mess gradually bred and this afternoon I called "enough!" I changed into my gardening gear and focused my cross hairs. I started out shifting the toolbox, wind-up hosepipes, strimmers, lawnmower and hedge trimmers, extension cables, stacker boxes, slates and tiles and a couple of bags of Blue Circle, and into the space created assembled then shifted three packs of IKEA rammel-storing shelving units. Onto said shelves I sorted then stacked all the French beers, wines and spirits; all the dishwasher tabs; the car gear; the garden gear; the Christmas outdoor fairy lights; all my Bosch hand tools; Beloved Firstborn's arsenal; assorted hurley sticks and hockey sticks, ice hockey blades and sticks, dinghys, paddles, roller blades and fishing nets; multi-cell planting cells and seed trays and more plastic plant labels than you could possibly imagine.
I found glue guns, boxes of buttons and odd bits of string; no end of green garden wire and several knackered secateurs. Why don't I just throw old gardening kit straight in the bin? Who in their right mind really believes they'll ever sew up the shredded fingers of gardening gloves?
By this stage, of course, the decluttering madness was upon me. You know those bendy plastic flexi-tubs? I filled two with bits of wood and old fence posts that over the years I'd had the sense not to throw onto my bonfires in case they exploded and sent white hot nails flying all over the garden. "Don't worry neighbours! It's only tonight's son et lumiére; "Belfast, 1972!"
As I drove into the "municiple recyling facility" (that's the tip, to you and I), I caught the horrified stares of the workers, and I hadn't even told them they'd have to help me empty the car as I'd run out of brufen this morning and my back was too sore to move.
I'm sitting here in the most wonderful position, because it's too painful to sit any other way, and those bloody hyacinths still aren't potted up.