Saturday 24 February 2024

Keeping financial records

is something we are required to do - for seven years. Anything prior to that is not usually something we need to look at. Bills are usually paid by then. Tax is sorted out. Gifts given have long been put into use or used. 

There are people who keep "everything" and they may keep it forever. Most of us don't do that. 

Right now it is making my life, and that of two of my siblings, very difficult. I have no idea how it will go. I thought however of some things I have had to deal with over the years. 

At one time we lived next door to two elderly spinster sisters. They were interesting people. Both of them had travelled widely, indeed done so much that travel companies called on them to lead tour groups when they retired from their other employment. 

When one of them died the other called on me and the neighbour on the other side to clear out her sister's belongings. 

"There is rather a lot. I just can't do it. I can't face it, " she told us. We thought there could not be that much...and we were wrong. K... had kept everything, or so it seemed. There were boxes and boxes and boxes. She had kept receipt after receipt after receipt. One ancient receipt recorded the first hat she had bought from her first pay. The envelope in which she had received her first pay was there in those days.  

Over the years she had kept all her cheque butts, all her bank books and bank statements. All these things were neatly bundled together in disintegrating rubber bands. She had almost certainly never looked at them once she bundled them together like that. Her wardrobe contained shoes she had not worn for years. She had been careful with those and her clothes. All of them showed signs of being mended when necessary. The shoes were stuffed with old fashioned "keepers" and winter garments were covered in cloth bags. 

The Senior Cat came in and took away boxes and boxes of theatre tickets, bus tickets, rail tickets, airline tickets, theatre programs, art exhibition catalogues. All of them were incinerated in the incinerator we were legally allowed to have then. We packed her outer clothes into bags. We put the shoes in boxes. Along with seven umbrellas and eleven walking sticks we took it all to the charity shop. 

We were left with her books, mostly travel related. The Senior Cat called someone he knew to come and see if there was anything of any value. I remember him saying, "I don't think so...unless someone is interested in travel memorabilia." There was one entire bookshelf filled with photograph albums. The albums were full of photographs she had taken and postcards she had bought. There must have been many thousands there. Her sister just shrugged and those were thrown out too. 

I wish now we had kept those albums and some of the other things, kept them long enough to write a biography. It might have made an interesting exhibition too. There was a whole life in a detail that most of us could never hope for. It might have taught us a lot about life as it was from when she was born in the reign of Queen Victoria and into an era when she could fly to all of Europe but also to all of Africa, South America, China, Japan, Mongolia. She trekked into Tibet, climbed Mt Kilimanjaro...and always regretted not going to the Antarctic as well as the Arctic.  There is nothing left. I hope nobody wants proof she bought that first hat with money from her first pay packet.  

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