Over the past year I’ve been at home most of the time, like pretty much everyone else. This week we’re all “celebrating” our “pandemicversary”. It’s been a full year since we all started working from home all of the time. Sure, I’ve been into the office from time to time and we even had a few weeks where we thought we’d be able to go back… but for now it’s working from home. Living at work. Take your pick.
Being at home in Ireland all the time is not normal for me. I was travelling constantly before all this kicked off. So it’s been a big change for me.
But while I may not be overly happy about being stuck in Ireland all of the time my lack of travel has had an upside. I’ve been able to go through boxes of my possessions and throw out stuff that I didn’t want or need. And there was a LOT. Prior to moving to Carlow back in 2003 I moved around quite a bit. Each move involved the accumulation of more bits and pieces and invariably stuff got shoved in boxes and forgotten about.
Some of the stuff I’ve found in these boxes has been really odd and shows that I obviously just chucked things into a box without really thinking about it. But it also means that I’ve found old letters, photos, books and a lot of other bits and pieces that carry memories.
Memories are odd. They can be triggered by the simplest of things. Some of the stuff I’ve come across has brought back happy memories, others have made me feel a little sad. Finding a letter from an ex-girlfriend can bring up feelings that I’d forgotten about for many many years!
Some of the old photos are odd. Like this one:
I’ve absolutely no idea why they took that photo. Apparently it was taken by my sister’s au pair at the time, though how she remembers that is beyond me! And why on earth did they take the photo? It’s very obviously posed, but I’ve no idea why.
Other photos , like the ones I talked about recently, are much clearer and simpler. I know exactly when the photo was taken (or at least the occasion if not the date) and under which circumstances the photo was taken.
Some stuff is really really old. Like of course I’ve got every single photo and press cutting from my brief stint on the stage as a very precocious and probably incredibly annoying 9 year old.
I always did like a good ax!
Other stuff is just incredibly random. I apparently don’t throw anything out. Ever. I’ve been trying to get better about that, but I probably have just about every single cable and charger that has ever come my way going back more than 20 years. Do I need them all? Well you never know … and that’s a problem.
But when you find things like your old school reports from 1989 – 1990. There’s a lot of truth in them. But there’s also some bits in there that amuse me as I look back. I was rather lazy at school and most of my teachers knew it and weren’t exactly impressed. Some of the comments were very telling:
Can be good when he make the effort
Has ability but lacks commitment
Could be far better if he was willing to make the effortComments from several teachers, Midleton College 1989 to 1990
Looking back on those comments more than 30 years later I’ll freely admit they weren’t wrong. I was lazy. I wasn’t particularly interested in academic success. I was 16 – 17 years old. I had no idea what the hell I wanted to do with my life and I wasn’t fixated on exams. I could do “ok” without making much effort, so I did. This probably frustrated my teachers and I suspect my mother wasn’t overly impressed either. Though I think a lot of this goes to the insane way our educational system is setup. You’re supposed to “know” around age 14 what you want to be for the rest of your life. Once you start making those subject choices for state exams then you’re pretty much deciding which route you’re taking. That is nuts.
So what else have I found in these boxes?
Well photos obviously. Many of them are terrible. Out of focus and just plain awful. Others are of people who I don’t remember. Their faces looks unfamiliar to me and I didn’t put any notes on the back of the photos, so I’ve no idea who they are. From the context I can sort of work out who they might be, but I’m not sure.
Books. Oddly a lot of books had been wedged into boxes with other things.
Things I thought I’d lost. There’s been quite a bit of that.
Many many moons ago Murphy’s Stout did a promotion with Zippo. If you saved up enough tokens from pints of Murphy’s you could get a lovely brass Zippo lighter with their logo. Of course I got one. When I was 17. Just goes to show how strictly alcohol laws were enforced!
Or how about my EuroDisney Opening Crew t-shirt?
It’s seen better days, but I still have it:
There’s a lot of stuff that I still need to go through and I still need to purge more of it. But it’s slow, as every little discovery unlocks memories. I also need to be more brutal and to stop holding on to things that I do not need.