I have just begun the arduous process of having my loft converted into a bedroom. I say arduous because in addition to ten weeks of noise, disruption and dust, the man doing it has never done a conversion before, but assures me that he has borrowed a couple of books from the library on the subject and feels reasonably confident.
However, all of this pales into insignificance compared to the weeks I've spent trying to empty my loft of years of free books, abandoned toys and boxes of total crap. How I used to sneer at all of those people on the Life Laundry and be appalled by their futile acquisitions, but I am as bad as the worst of them. In most of the de-clutter programmes I watch, they have a car boot sale and managed to make a bit of money. Sadly, I have yet to find anything of value.
I tried selling few books on Ebay, offering to donate 20% of the sale to charity. I didn't read the small print, which said that the minimum threshold was £5 to charity and to date I am one of the few people to have made a loss on Ebay.
In the end I donated ten boxes of books to charity shops. I can live without most of them, although I am still kicking myself for accidentally giving away a beautiful first edition of an illustrated Susan Hill children's book. I hope it raises a few quid for some worthy cause; preferably not a cats' home. The rest of my stuff is either in storage or being pecked at by disappointed seagulls at the local rubbish dump.
However, there have been a few gems. Some of them I had forgotten about whilst a few were completely new to me, including this photograph (dated 1893) which I found in a box belonging to my wife's grandmother Lilian.
As soon as I saw this picture I had to post it. I have no idea who these people are and as I was driving home in my car yesterday, I thought 'I must try and ask Lilian who they are.' Lilian is now 99 and has lost most of her marbles to the point where she genuinely believes that she plays tennis every morning, but she has lucid moments and old people are generally good at remembering the distant past. She is the only person who might know. I resolved to ask her as soon as possible, otherwise the mystery will remain unsolved.
A few minutes later I arrived home. As I shut the door behind me, my wife looked up at me and said 'Nan's died.'