Give all you like…Just don’t keep telling me!

                I am sorry to be banging on about Facebook yet again, but whilst I have no wish to leave it [yet] there are elements that I do find irritating and the particular issue I’m tired of this week is pleas for sponsorship.

               OK. This makes me sound humbug enough to get haunted by ghosts dragging chains, I know. I should be reading all these stories of children with wasting diseases, mums who’ve died of cancer, heroes who’ve fought for queen and country and had bits blown off, poor, emaciated donkeys and the deprived local tennis club with tears in my eyes and then rushing to dig out my credit card immediately. I should revere those who are selflessly walking, swimming, jogging, knitting, singing or cycling their way to £10.50 or whatever their target figure is and should be thoroughly ashamed not to be following their shining example or even accompanying them in their respective crusades. Shame on me!

                 But actually, where charities are concerned, to me it is personal. I am not averse to inserting some loose change into the occasional collecting tin, provided the cause is worthy in my eyes, but on the whole I want the choice. I want to choose who I donate to, when I donate and how much. I don’t want to be reminded on a daily basis that this or that FB acquaintance is of such a saintly disposition they are giving of their time for such a selfless act whereas I am content to slob around at home heedless of the plight of such victims as they have elected to support.

                   It seems to me that those of us who are lucky and privileged enough to have been born and brought up in a relatively wealthy western civilisation are the lucky ones. We inhabit a country with a moderately stable climate [alright-it did go a bit pear shaped this winter], we can be provided with enough to get basic provisions, however impoverished we may feel ourselves to be. If our health is threatened we have access to some [admittedly marginal] health care. The authorities can provide some fundamental shelter, if it becomes necessary. This safety net is not available to vast numbers of people in the world; people who live in countries racked by drought, floods, famine or wars. We will never find ourselves stranded in a desert with starving, diseased children and nothing but grass or leaves to eat. We will never have to walk ten miles for some water.

                 This is what makes me averse to donating to the redundant donkeys’ homer, Helicopter rescue or Save the Allotments, although I am in favour of taxation to fund overseas development.

                  I do have my favourites! Oxfam, for one. The charity I do like to support, through a regular  standing order from my bank account, is Wateraid. Because I cannot think of anything more important than the provision of clean, safe water, vital to life itself. But I don’t want to swim, sing, dress up or walk…I’ll just donate, thanks!

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Are you a hoarder or a shedder?

                Whilst it does not do to become too introspective, from time to time I have been conducting an assessment of such changes as I may be undergoing as I plunge down through the floors in the elevator [de-elevator? Reverse thrust?] of increasing maturity.

                Something I have noticed is the tendency towards minimalism, which is interesting because it appears that many people become more inclined towards clutter as they age. This is true of several friends. They have accumulated ‘stuff’. It is understandable, this acquiring of objects without shedding others. It might perhaps provide a psychological barrier between solid, dependable life and the unknown that is getting snuffed out-especially as the snuffing comes ever closer.

                ‘You can’t take it with you!’ and ‘You don’t want to be the richest person in the graveyard!’ These are often quoted as we age and feel guilty about spending or acquiring. Often, the objects we have surrounded ourselves with, that we feel the most valuable are the very artefacts that will be unceremoniously trashed once we have slipped off the mortal coil. My mother became anxious as her denouement approached, cataloguing various items of furniture even as she lay in her hospital bed, exhorting us to have this table valued or that china figurine taken to a dealer. “We’ll get a skip” interjected my brother, in a bid to inject some levity into the conversation. But in fact, his statement proved almost prophetic, since the ultimate valuation of their house contents barely covered the cost of clearing it. ‘The bottom has fallen out of the antiques market’, we were told, and I believe the ‘bottom’ may still be absent today.

                Whilst nobody likes the idea of contemplating their demise, there is a certain, pleasing purity about leaving the planet with nothing, just as you came. This makes me wonder if that is the very reason why I prefer an uncluttered space. It may be subconscious preparation. Oh not that I’m expecting or planning to expire any time soon [I still have time to be a best-selling novelist!], but the natural progression of ageing is that we ‘downsize’, with the inevitable need to have fewer belongings in the smaller area.

                As regular readers know, we, [that is myself and the significant other known as Husband] spend much of our time in the tiny, cramped space that is our camper van, using a capsule kitchen and living out of luggage. When we return it is to the vast area that is our house. ‘What a long way it is to the toilet!’ I say, and always experience some difficulty in adjusting to sleep in a bedroom that feels enclosed and stuffy.

                As Christmas approaches we deck the halls, filling the house with glittery, sparkly objects, greenery, candles, cards, tinsel. As soon as the revelries have subsided I cannot wait to clear it all out. In fact, so wonderful is the feeling of purging at trashing it all it is almost worth the initial effort of decorating to experience the soothing, peaceful, restorative sensation that is minimalism.