yesterday I took the opportunity to do something which I should have done long ago. I cleared out the linen press or linen cupboard.
This had not, I am ashamed to say, been done since my mother died in 2000. I have no idea when she did it before that.
It is perhaps not quite as bad as it sounds because the Senior Cat and I used the same things over and over again and just ignored the rest. They were stacked and stored quite neatly. They were not getting dirty or dusty. Why bother?
I am always reluctant to do anything like that when the Senior Cat is home. He hates to see anything that belonged to my mother thrown out - or anything that "might be useful" given away. I am a little less sentimental. I like to think of things we will never use being used by other people. My mother and I often disagreed but, on that issue, we would agree.
I also knew that it was time to remove one of the disgraceful hand towels the Senior Cat likes to use when washing the gardening soil from his paws. It has very little drying power left. There are holes in it. He has insisted on using it to the point of destruction. There are other things which can be used.
So, I pulled things from the shelves. I piled them neatly on the floor. I found no less than five damask tablecloths. The last time they were used must have been in my grandmothers' day. They both had large dining room tables. If we have guests I use one of two wash and drip-dry minimum iron table cloths. Why have we kept them?
I went through the sheets and discarded one with a tear in it. Even if I had access to a machine and could sew it would not be worth going sides to middle. There were two pillow cases that should have gone out long ago. Ah right, two new sheets. I knew they were there but now they might get used.
I went through piles of old serviettes, doilies, table runners, an antimacassar or two, ancient tea-towels with holes in them that could have been used as cleaning rags, ragged towels and a pile of oven gloves which would be useless for trying to hold anything hot.
I went and found one of those large black plastic bags which are used for rubbish. I filled it with things we did not need. Someone else will use it.
And I found two things I had forgotten were there. There is a doll called "Betty". It/she belonged to my mother. I have never found this doll very attractive but then I was never a "doll" sort of child. It is, I suppose, quite valuable. It is still in remarkably good repair, just one small finger has broken. The hair is intact. There are no proper clothes for it. I know it is as old as Queen Elizabeth. My mother was given it the day the Queen was born. I wrapped it up and put it back. It is not something you can give away.
And the other thing? It is my mother's wedding dress. It is plain cream satin with a "sweetheart" neckline. It was not fancy. It was home-made. My mother's parents had very little money. My middle sister wore it too. In those days she was as slim as my mother had been when she married. I packed it carefully into the wrappings and put it back. Will it ever be used again?