Not quite Kondo in quarantine

Decluttering queen Marie Kondo has gone quiet. Some say her credibility is shot after she launched an online store to sell stuff which, in time, becomes clutter. Some say she’s self-isolating. Wrong. The real reason is she knows I’ve discovered the Reverse Kondo. It’s called a shed.

A shed is a place for creative activity: making things; fixing things; contemplating things that didn’t turn out quite right after fixing. Also, a place to store stuff – although “store” suggests a semblance of order. Better to think of a shed as a place where things enter a lingering afterlife after their best days are over. I’ve had a shed for a while now: before then, when living in the US, I had an attic. The perfect place to hide stuff we weren’t sure what to do with. Also a safe answer to any question concerning the whereabouts of something (or someone) not seen for a while.

Alan Attwood: mastering the Reverse Kondo.

Alan Attwood: mastering the Reverse Kondo.Credit:

But a shed, unlike the Tardis in Doctor Who, is not bigger inside than out. Over time, available space shrinks. Which means a cull is required. This is what I’ve been doing lately, for the first time in many years. A quarantine cull. But before Ms Kondo squeaks in approval, I should make it clear this is more about discovery than disposal. I start in one corner, ready to fill a bin. But then I find stuff. Corner brackets. The missing bit from the thing I was using the other week. Packets of screws and washers and drill bits. Terrific. These are the sort of things I buy regularly. So already I’ve saved money. Though not time. I get distracted.

An odd-shaped knob sparks a search for the item to which it might belong. This means moving away from the original corner and fossicking elsewhere – in a cabinet that belonged to my father; in a tool cabinet made by his father. I come from a long line of tinkerers, none of whom would condone holus-bolus disposal of potentially useful stuff. My father, after all, kept a box labelled ‘Broken Things’. The electric jug inside might have been cracked. But its element? Fine. Just awaiting a new home.


The latest cull, which predates The Virus, has been under way for a while now. Not that you’d notice. But my time has not been wasted. I’ve found stuff, including a perplexing number of adjustable wrenches. I’m well prepared for future plumbing assignments. More items have been resettled than rejected. With luck, I may even recall where I’ve put them. Do not despair, Ms Kondo. I will not be selling anything online. No competition here. And I have embraced one of your principles. All this rummaging and rearranging is giving me joy.

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