The latest addition to the Canavan family is due to arrive on March 20. The imminent arrival of the second and very definitely last child I father means, depressingly, there is certain stuff that has to be done. Top of the list is the back bedroom. For the past nine months, Mrs C has been preaching the importance of moving Mary into a different room BEFORE the new baby arrives.
‘That way,’ says Mrs C, po-faced and sounding as if she’s auditioning for the role of some kind of baby guru, ‘Mary won’t feel like she’s being pushed out to make way for the baby.’
Back in August there seemed to be loads of time. Now, two weeks before the due date, there seems slightly less time to get things done.
On Saturday, I decided the task couldn’t be put off any longer so, reluctantly, I entered the back bedroom armed with a pile of bin liners and a pair of heavy-duty Marigolds.
Now, as I’m sure you’ve experienced, it isn’t until you have to clear a room of its contents that you realise just how much is in a room.
There were, for starters, shoved under the bed and in various wardrobes, dozens of cardboard boxes packed full of utterly useless rubbish we have no need for and which I’ve no idea why we carefully packed into boxes in the first place.
In these boxes I found an array of junk ranging from old newspaper cuttings (I have a habit of keeping important iconic front pages; Barak Obama’s inauguration as president, the 9/11 attacks on America, the death of Jeremy Beadle), old school reports, packets of paracetamol a decade beyond their use-by date, and many unwanted Christmas gifts (such as a three-in-one foldaway pocket knife that can be used for, to quote the packaging, ‘cutting anything from branches to cheese’)
The back bedroom also contains 12 guitars, a piano, a banjo, mandolin, flute, tambourine and a wide selection of mouth organs. ‘You’ll need to get rid of all those,’ she said.
I responded by telling her in no uncertain terms that if the instruments go, I go too. I can tell this worried her for she replied, ‘fine, that suits me’.
The upshot of all this is that I spent seven hours – SEVEN HOURS – on Sunday clearing the room.
First I hauled all my instruments up to the attic, aside from the piano which, after enlisting the help of three burly male neighbours, we eventually managed to drag downstairs to the lounge, though not without almost tragically and fatally squashing the cat.
After the instruments were dealt with, I began the task of filling 15 plastic boxes (Mrs C drove to Tesco specially to buy more) with items we wanted to keep.
I discovered at this point I’m not very good at throwing things away. When it came to the newspaper cuttings, for instance, I suddenly didn’t like the idea of chucking the Obama front page, so I neatly folded it and placed it in the box.
Then when it came to my mother’s absolutely naff three-in-one folding knife I thought, ‘what if I’m at a dinner party and all the knives are in the dishwasher and we need something to cut the cheese with?’ So that too went in a box.
It was a long and arduous task heaving all the boxes up the rickety wooden ladder to the loft and it was with beads of sweat dripping from my weary brow just before midnight that I finally called it a day and slumped into the bath, where, so tired, I fell asleep and woke up coughing 15 minutes later after coming close to choking to death on Radox bubble bath.
Worse still there is more yet to do. The wardrobe, now empty, needs dismantling, as does the bed.
Mrs C has warned me it must be done by the end of the weekend. If I’d have known all this when we tried for a baby I’d never have bothered.