One Man’s Junk Is Another Man’s Treasure …

I last downsized in 2005, so my accumulated hoard over the past decade isn’t really large. It is, however, a fact that stuff expands to fill the available space and equally true that when you return to a place after a lengthy absence you see it with new eyes.

Back here in my Swiss apartment my wardrobe has been revealing many outfits I had utterly forgotten I had, since it’s been nigh on five years since I last wore them. To my surprise, knowing that I have put on weight, I found that quite a lot of things still fit and are perfectly wearable. However, lurking at the back of the closet are not exactly skeletons, but garments several sizes smaller than I am at present.

If I lost weight, I might be able to squeeze into them, but these styles and colours reflect the person I was 15 or more years ago when I was at least 15 kilos lighter and my hair was not grey: lots of orange, green and mustard, shoes with high heels, silk nightwear, and some racy lacy undies bought in France. That person no longer exists, though I gaze fondly on these clothes, shoes and bags and remember how I enjoyed being the woman who wore them. Should I allow them to continue taking up room in my wardrobe?

My friend shares a similar dilemma. She hasn’t gained any weight, but nobody can halt the passage of time. We decided to hire a stand at the local flea market and see if anyone is interested in our vintage stuff. While there, each obliged to take two six-foot long tables to display our wares, we agreed we might as well also try to dispose of some of the other odds and ends cluttering up our abodes.

Oh, what a turning out of cupboards, drawers and shelves that has been! Why on earth did I ever keep this vase? Or these two kitsch cats, neither useful nor beautiful nor of any sentimental value – they must have been a present, but from whom? I could fill more than one table with books, especially old outdated technical dictionaries, but I doubt there would be any takers. Instead, let’s get rid of unwanted china including an old Japanese tea set my late mother-in-law gave me back in the sixties, and some cut-glass and lead crystal objects, truly white elephants. Surely someone will fall in love with them. I could find more, but space in my friend’s car is limited and we don’t want to have to make more than one journey.

Flea market.png

Would anyone want to pay real money for all this? Well, one man went away happy with my old Burberry umbrella with its duck-head handle, another with a leather Appenzeller belt, and a third with a miniature stereo unit. A lady bought a pretty handbag, and a little girl a high-visibility vest. By 8 pm on Saturday evening, we had managed to sell about 5 articles each, with a total profit of 67 Swiss francs, which alas didn’t cover the 80.- fee demanded for our four tables. Still, it was an experience. Not one we would necessarily want to repeat, but interesting and instructive.

Maybe we were unlucky that on Saturday afternoon, Switzerland’s football team was playing in Euro 2016, keeping many people stuck in front of their TV, and non-football fans preferred to enjoy the sunny weather by the lake rather than to come inside the flea market hall. But the sad truth is that no, we didn’t find buyers for most of our lovely old things and after their brief outing, they are all back where they were before. Perhaps I really should try to lose those 15 kilos?

Footnote: I received payment this morning from a friend for whom I did a small editing job. I hadn’t wanted to charge her, but she insisted on giving me 100 Sfrs. Now is that a sign I should stick to doing what I do best?


3 thoughts on “One Man’s Junk Is Another Man’s Treasure …

  1. Oh dear. I know exactly what you mean about stuff expanding into the spaces available. I last moved in 2004. I thinned my “stuff” down considerably and sold lots of books, vowing not to recollect anything. Alas, I have recollected lots–books included. Darn it. I also know exactly what you mean about the lurking memories in the back of the wardrobe… I need a flea market.

  2. Having just spent three months sorting through my mother’s things, I do know the feeling of things expanding to fill the space. It was amazing the things that fitted into her two bedroom villa.

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