In recent times I’ve had the opportunity to re-evaluate my past personal history with some fascinating results.
Nearly thirty years ago now my first wife died of cancer and – for a change of scenery – my kids, then quite young, and I moved some seven miles as the crow flies to a new home in south-west London where I have lived ever since.
Time moves on, stuff happens, and in the new few months I am anticipating moving out to the country in pursuit of a quieter and cheaper lifestyle.
As part of the process and preparing to put my house on the market, over the past few weeks I have been “reviewing” the contents and dividing them into those that I definitely wish to take with me, those that I am undecided about and those that are destined – one way or another – for disposal.
One complication that has arisen seems to have been caused, directly or indirectly, by the Covid-19 pandemic crisis is that it is no longer possible, as it was in “the old days”, simply to drive to one’s local municipal refuse disposal centre, car packed to the rafters with rubbish, dump it and drive home again. Several times every day if one chose.
However, no more.
It seems that under the various Government-imposed lockdown periods every UK citizen and his dog has at various times conducted an exercise to “clear out” his home, thus creating a huge increase in pressure upon our waste disposal centres, especially now that we’re supposedly all so climate change-conscious that we have to split all our detritus into “glass, plastics, newspapers, cardboard … and God alone knows what else” and place each of the above into different receptacles.
These days the fashion is also that one has to “book” a time – either online or by ringing one’s local council phone line set up for the purpose – and one can only make one such journey per day.
For someone like myself – with I should estimate at least five cars’ worth of crap to get rid of – the task is going to take a while to complete. The first booking I could obtain at my local refuse centre was at noon last Friday and the second is at 2.00pm next Wednesday.
In gradually working into the darkened recesses of my abode I have come across several plastic crates and cardboard “removal boxes” which have not been opened in the three decades since I moved here.
Some of the results of opening them and going through the contents have been revelatory and others quite the opposite.
I’ve blogged previously about how listening to contemporary popular music has gradually slipped from being a major aspect of my life to having very little part in it at all – a development that I’ve put this down to my pet theory that, after the age of forty, one tends to “stick with” the music and artistes that one broadly-speaking grew up with.
As a result since last Thursday I have identified about 250 CDs that I haven’t played in at least ten years – and some of them in twenty – and can foresee little to no chance of ever removing from their cases again for the purpose. They’re all now bound for the proverbial great CD happy-hunting ground in the sky (or actually the local council tip).
In the same cabinet I estimate I found at least 100 DVDs of either TV drama box sets, sit-coms and documentaries, “live” rock music concerts and/or feature films – approximately 90 of which are now destined for the same burial ground.
But that’s not the end of my tale today.
Of the few DVD “classics” that I decided to take with me to my intended new home were Mel Brooks’ 1967 movie The Producers (starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder) and Kubrick’s 1971 A Clockwork Orange (starring Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee and Adrienne Corri).
On Friday night after our evening meal, I decided to introduce my partner to the delights of The Producers, one of my all-time favourite movies.
With great ceremony I put said item into my DVD player (having removed the cellophane from the pristine, indeed hitherto unopened, DVD cover) and pressed the “play movie” option.
The resulting “showing” proved totally unwatchable. Every two minutes or so – although the soundtrack continued without incident throughout – the DVD went from playing the movie to displaying a blank (black) screen for periods of up to thirty seconds at a time.
Frustrating and exasperating didn’t begin to cover my reaction adequately, especially since I had spent dinner teeing up The Memsahib to expect one of the funniest movies of the 20th Century.
I have no idea whether the fault lay with my copy of the DVD or perhaps my DVD player and I didn’t care.
On Saturday morning my copies of both The Producers and A Clockwork Orange went straight in my “discard” pile. A key principle of my “review” exercise is to dispense with items I do not expect to need ever again.
I certainly don’t need DVDs which are, or may be, unplayable.