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Living with Penguins

An article in yesterday’s Metro about a man who has accumulated a collection of 15,000 Penguin paperbacks – among them the first 2000 titles published – got me thinking about all of the things I have thrown out or given to Oxfam only to regret it. There is a school of thought that says de-cluttering is good for the soul but, whilst I like to think that I’m not an overly materialistic person, evidence of my passage through the world – of the people I have loved, places I have visited, books I have read, my old vinyl collection (even though it is rarely played), cards that my godchildren have made for me – these are things I truly treasure. When I visit other people’s homes, I do not like to see shining white surfaces and blank walls: I like to see evidence of other lives lived. So hooray for people who make collecting and passion. Hooray for clutter! Throw things away at your peril, because some day the person who signed your childhood autograph book may be famous – or, far worse, may not be here anymore (In my case, both). And some day the collection of Penguins that you considered donating to a library may be worth over £40,000.