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Tansy Rayner Roberts

Glueing with Peanut Butter

September 17th, 2012 at 18:31

I have been working on my novel edits, honestly, even if they have brought along with them the most titanic attempts of procrastination than I have ever experienced before.

My favourite clanger that I caught in the manuscript yesterday is that if you’re going to use the metaphor that a character “glued himself” to his computer it probably shouldn’t be in the same sentence where he had just made himself a peanut butter sandwich. I just couldn’t stop staring at that sentence! It’s been there for YEARS.

My major achievement for the weekend, though, was something I have been fretting about for, well, years. When we moved into this house seven and a half years ago, with a brand new baby, we came from a compact 2 bedroom unit to a sprawling four bedroom house with lots and lots and LOTS of cupboard space. Naturally we exploded into the house like a cannon, filling every available corner with our (apparently compressed far too tightly) stuff.

The house was so big to us that we spent the first year or so of it living in only half, heating only half (turned out doing that saved no money btw) and sleeping with our baby in the master bedroom at the front of the house. The three bedrooms at the back were, well. Storage. Okay, a couple of studies and… anyway. We were especially cavalier with the built in cupboards because there were so many of them.

When we finally moved little Raeli into her own room at the age of two and a half (we malingered on the decision a bit because we didn’t want her at completely the other end of the house to us – took ages to realise we could move down there too, into one of the little rooms) we focused on the important things: a big girl bed, space for her toys, and so on. Kids have a lot of stuff, it’s true, but she was still tiny and certainly wasn’t going to be using hanging space any time soon.

The room was hers but the cupboards were basically still ours. As indeed were all the cupboards.

Later we got Jem and she went into her own little room a lot earlier, the whole family occupying the three back bedrooms while the big front one was transformed into my Library. Jem’s room was my former study, which means her cupboards are (still) packed to the rafters with all my crap including decades of notebooks stored in plastic crates and other paraphenalia. This was only a problem the time my Mum decided to prove to Jem there were no monsters in the cupboard and flung it open, only to traumatise our toddler with the sight a terrifying doll depicting Muppet Angelus.

Oops. I *was* storing monsters in her cupboard.

Anyway, Raeli is getting older, and needs bigger furniture, and has more clothes and so on, and it was starting to grate on me that she couldn’t use her own massive wardrobe, except for me to occasionally open the door and hurl something into it. In particular she wanted us to move her bunk bed so that instead of obscuring the window, she could look out of it.

I know, right? Fussy.

But the move meant about half as much wall space, and that meant that I needed to get her some furniture that was slightly taller than she was AND, well. The wardrobe. The enormous, four door built in wardrobe.

So last week, I bought furniture (as it turns out, three more pieces than I needed for this specific project, oops! Still, it’s all lovely and will be useful elsewhere in the house) and this weekend I rolled up my sleeves and took Raeli’s room apart and back together again.

When I was done, several podcasts and Big Finish plays and dust inhalations later, I had beautiful, organised wardrobes which are almost entirely devoted to Raeli and her many possessions. More to the point, there is room for more stuff – not a lot, but still. Instead of piling books on the floor or squeezing them into other parts of the house, she has extra shelf space for FUTURE BOOKS.

Not only that but this organisation has already improved other parts of the house – a small bookshelf we freed up is now tidily housing the children’s DVDs instead of them forming a fort around the television, and I have an entire massive shelf of one of my own bookcases (previously holding all the picture books too big to fit on Raeli’s titchy shelves) that I can fill with non fiction and/or graphic novels.

Also, um. If anyone wants a copy of Splashdance Silver I seem to have unearthed a whole extra box of them I didn’t know I had…

The moral of the story is: we have too much stuff. Our children have too much stuff. But crazy intense great-aunt-coming-to-visit levels of cleaning and organisation can reap great rewards.

Next thing you know, I’ll be looking closely at our wardrobe, and the fact that we never ever use it for anything except storing Christmas presents in. What the hell is in there? I have no idea.

Quick, someone buy another book off me and I might make a start on finding out!

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3 Responses to “Glueing with Peanut Butter”

  1. Rachel H. Says:

    Me! Sell me a copy of Splashdance Silver! I only have Liquid Gold and it’s so sad on the shelf by itself.

  2. tansyrr Says:

    awesome! Email me on tansyrr (at) gmail.com

  3. Susan Loyal Says:

    The description of you occasionally opening the wardrobe long enough to hurl something in made me chuckle. Recently, I reorganized to make bedrooms where ordinarily there was only office/study/tv watching space, so that my husband’s niece and nephew (9 and 13) could visit. The walk-in closet in the 13-year-old’s room was used to bury potentially dangerous things, like the weight bench. We introduced the closet to him as “referred to locally as the Mines of Moria–too deep they piled there and smothered the nameless dread. Don’t go in, and you’ll be fine.”

    By day two, I’d hear them chirp “going into Moria now.” They’d found the tiny eliptical machine (no handles, just pedals), set it up in the minimal clear space, and were traveling. I can only assume that Frodo and Gandalf were with them. So much for making something off-limits by suggesting that it’s vaguely sinister.

    Congratulations on mastering your wardrobes, which are all magical spaces, if you ask me, just as all doorways are liminial.

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