Does it spark joy? That is, apparently, the question, according to one of these self-help schemes/books/videos/courses, and is the fundamental proposition behind a way of decluttering your life, and making yourself happier, so somebody told me the other day.
And as daffodils are coming out, and it’s very nearly spring, it feels to me like time to start thinking about a declutter. So you get the idea of this fad: pick up an old cushion, give it a squeeze and a cuddle, decide if it brings you joy and, if not, chuck it out.
I tried it. Got things out of cupboards and rooms, went right through the house, asked myself if they truly brought me joy and binned them if they didn’t.
Anyway, the cat and my motorcycle and I have never been happier. Or hungrier. Please send help.
But there was one nugget of semi-truth, I thought, in what I read about it: storage – even clever storage solutions – are, in essence, just organised hoarding, which is no good to anyone. Among readers of this publication, I might well not be alone in having a garage, shed or workshop, with one or two things in it that, perhaps, could have been thrown out a while ago but are kept ‘just in case’ they might be handy.
Every now and again, I will let some things go, but not others which I deem might be more useful. And do you know what: just the other day I remembered an old kart frame that would have been perfect for making a frame for a PlayStation gaming seat. Had I not scrapped it four years ago.
So it is spring, and I am going to declutter. My advice would be thus: hoard entirely, or not at all.
I recently wrote about how refuge areas in ‘smart motorways’ are to become more prevalent, only not just yet. The M4 as it runs between London and Reading is to be upgraded to smart motorway status soon – with cleverer overhead gantries and hard shoulder-running from time to time, but there’s no chance to put emergency breakdown areas closer than a mile-and-a-half apart without massively delaying the build. On future roads, though, this will be reduced to a mile. Good. I’d rather it was less than that. The thing about emergencies is that you don’t know when you’re going to have one.
On the face of it, hard shoulder-running should make loads of sense. Vehicles are more reliable than ever, so why waste this space giving them something they don’t need to stop in? Dual carriageways don’t have hard shoulders, after all.
But dual carriageways don’t tend to be as busy as motorways, and quite often they’re edged by a white line, a bit of asphalt, a bit of gravel and then some grass, making it possible to squeeze a broken down vehicleat least partly out of harm’s way. A smart motorway, edged to the left as they often are by hard Armco, doesn’t give you that chance.
Many drivers think smart motorways feel perilous in the same way that claustrophobia can feel perilous. There is no obvious way out, no passage to safety – and that uncertainty, the lack of a plan, is not conducive to the kind of relaxed driving that we ought to be enjoying.