We were engaged in frantic tidying recently. Olympic-standard sorting. This, for us, is a Really Big Thing. Normally we tend to belong to the Quentin Crisp school of domesticity. (QC famously never cleaned. "After four years," he quipped, "you don't notice the dust.")
However, as it's Mothering Sunday this weekend and we have various family members circling us like planes in a holding pattern, we decided it was time to do something about the clutter and junk. All was going well. Then Katie ventured into The Place.
I realise that's the second time I've used capital initials so far. But The Place deserves them. Every home, no matter how tidy, has a Place. The Place in your home is where all manner of things tend to gravitate. It might be a kitchen drawer, or a space on top of a wardrobe. But you'll have a Place. And you'll rarely enter The Place, less so will you ever tidy it up.
Our Place is between the stereo and one of its speakers. This Place lends itself to capturing randomly thrown items. Letters, expired bank cards, old cheque stubs, all sorts. Once things get into The Place, they never return.
I knew Katie had entered The Place. I was in another room, but I heard her sigh.
Katie: "Why do you keep all these receipts?"
Me: "You never known when you might want to take something back."
Katie: "But this one's for a haircut. Explain that to me, Einstein."
Me: "I have no words."
Katie: "There's a wallet in here. Hang on, it's got stuff in it."
Me: (getting excited) "Really?"
Katie: "More receipts. Mainly for meals out. In New York. There's one here for Rothmanns Steakhouse on East 54th in Manhattan."
Me: "Ooh. Nice filet mignon."
Katie: "Do I need to remind you that it was January 2007 when we last went to the States? Look, there's $17 here."
Me: "But that's good news. The exchange rate means we're much better off now than we would have been if I'd changed it into pounds in 2007. We're rich, I tell you, rich!"
Katie: "I didn't have to marry you, you know. I had other options."
Truth of the matter is, no-one else would have either of us. I like to think we're performing a service to humanity.