A friend wants to borrow our ‘ready bed’ and I’m feeling smug. Not only is it clean and works but I know exactly where it is in the garage.
Getting to the box in question is another matter. I squeeze in, past the lawn mower, over the camping equipment and across the bikes, scooters and scoot bikes, dislodging the hula hoop as I go, tripping over a Peppa Pig inflatable hopper and spiking myself on the swingball set. The box itself is under three plastic sledges and a car seat.
I wrench off the lid and pull out … a bag of pine cones. Ah yes, collected one holiday with optimistic plans for an Ideal Home-style Christmas display and now mouldy. No sign of the ready bed.
Next stop, the cupboard on the landing. On tiptoes, I open the top door and a quilt immediately drops on my head. I retreat to my bedroom to get a chair to stand on to stuff it back in again. To do so, I have to remove all the stuff already on the chair – a knitted cardigan for a newborn baby, a top waiting to be handwashed (which has been worn twice while in the queue – and actually, might stretch to a third outing, now I look at it again), a tea towel, a school top waiting for a label to be sewn in and a dinosaur. I stagger to the cupboard with the chair, wrestle the quilt back into its cupboard and jam the door shut. I return the chair to my room and dump all my stuff on it again.
The pointlessness of my actions so far are all too obvious. The amount of debris that must be waded through to complete the simplest of tasks in my house is frankly soul sapping.
You could decorate entire rooms with the number of Teenage Ninja Turtle colouring pages my sons churn out. As it is, they attach them carefully across the join between the fridge and freezer so that shafts of paper fly across the kitchen every time I make a cup of tea.
Depending on witnesses, these are grabbed from the floor and stuffed in the bin or, if a little sad face is watching, slapped onto the ‘pending’ pile of ‘paperwork’ and immediately lost in a black hole of school photo order sheets, Ben 10 watch designs, bills, 3p off your next shop from Sainsbury’s vouchers and expired 2 for 1 deals to Legoland. Every now and again a passing remote control vehicle attacks the foundations of the pile and it cascades back to the floor whereupon my eye starts to twitch.
Even the bathroom is not immune. Where once there might have been a few pleasant smelling and looking bottles there is now a tub or tube for every ailment and eventuality. Industrial sized Sudocream containers, enormous ‘family sized’ shampoo and bubble bath bottles, three different toothpastes, head lice treatment (just a precaution, obviously) a box of ‘funny face’ plasters which don’t stick and a bumper pack of skin coloured ones that do. Not to mention a packet of baby wipes on every surface, a random pair of pants in a dusty potty and the inevitable single sock.
And don’t get me on to toys. Really. Or Harry’s bottle top collection.
But back to the ready bed. I have a sudden flash of inspiration – literally, a vision. A black garbage bag. The garage. There it is, next to the hedgetrimmer. Thank God, because the only other option was the loft and the thought of that was having an odd effect on my ears.
I head for the sofa, swipe three remote controls, a newspaper, a lego tower and a note from Harry asking me if I want to be a witch or a wizard onto the floor and slump onto the cushions, instantly setting off a distant siren.
Somewhere in the toy drawers, there is an emergency.
If we swop ‘garden shed’ for ‘garage’ we are definitely the same person living in the same house right down to the siren in the toy drawer.