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Jeremy Corbett – One man’s trash

Jeremy's efforts to curtail his hoarding fail miserably.

We’ve done it!

We’ve survived another season of that relationship-busting phenomenon known as the inorganic collection.

Don’t get me wrong, I like it, but the collection invariably leads to a breakdown in husband-wife fraternisation, as our different attitudes to trash are starkly exposed.

When we notice the first dog-chewed lounge chair hitting the kerb, the male

and female brains in our house react differently. To the male, it is an opportunity to throw things out; to the female, it is the opportunity to get things in.

Once collection season begins, I fear going out with Megan. No longer can we drive down the street at constant speed. The moment we start moving, her excited face presses against the window like a kitten against a fish tank, paws splayed, as she urges me to slow down, or even stop, so she can “shop for free”.

I point out there is no room in the house for a “Penguin lamp”, but I detect her making a mental note of the location so she can wander down later, once she has drugged me unconscious.

We try and throw out some of our own junk. But, sadly, we are both genetically predisposed to hoarding. We fight it, but usually decide the only items we can discard are the other person’s stuff.

To motivate myself, I look at photos of my parents’ double garage, which is so full of “treasure” that it can no longer even accommodate air. Swearing I will not meet the same fate, I stride out to the garage and start moving everything onto the street. This is met with howls of outrage. Then the negotiation begins on what can be kept and what can be thrown.

This year, we arrived at a useful technique: separation. I’d stand in the garage and text photos of the items I wished to discard. She would sit inside the house and reply with “no” or “never”. Eventually, though, the fact she couldn’t physically hold and reconnect emotionally with the broken plastic candle holder meant I could kick it to the kerb. Result.

Then, a brand new phenomenon emerged. As I placed goods on the edge of the road, people driving by would stop and take them.

Part of me felt this was good – recycling in action. But the hoarder I was so desperately trying to suppress would scream that since someone else had wanted it, it must have been valuable and I was an idiot.

After this happened three times, I panicked, moved everything back into the garage, and locked it. Then, I dashed down the street to get even.

The result is that we now have more stuff than ever. But peace has once again descended on our household and normality has returned, brightened by the light of a lovely penguin lamp.

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