In between my draft posts that I have been putting up lately, this thought occurred to me, and generated a post that is not about films, for a change.
When I was younger, and living in the biggest city in Britain, there were certain things that were never really thought about. Things that I never expected to own, let alone have to buy at some stage. Moving to the countryside, and of course getting older at the same time, changed the everyday requirements of living, especially where clothing and footwear was concerned. Living in a place that is always much colder than London also brought about changes, and I recently had cause to consider some of the things I now own, that I had never imagined I would.
For most of my life, I had never possessed a ladder. When I had a house, I would pay someone else to clean the windows, make repairs to the roof, or paint where necessary. If I needed to get into a loft, I would stand on a stool or chair, and haul myself up through the hatch. For routine jobs, I had some small steps, allowing me to get up high enough to change a light bulb, or paint a ceiling. Once I moved to flats instead, routine maintenance was always done by someone else, provided by landlords. When I came to Norfolk to live in a bungalow, I didn’t need a ladder to clean windows, which are all at ground level. But I discovered that I also had to clear leaves from gutters, and that I could no longer physically drag myself up into the loft. So the ladder was purchased, and is now used all the time.
Houses and flats in cities are rarely that cold. The close proximity of other buildings and efficient central heating ensures that bedtime is rarely a chilly experience. But out here, our house is detached, touching no other buildings. All four walls are exposed to the elements, and the outside temperature is normally some five degrees less than it would be in London anyway. So we had to buy a much thicker duvet. For the first time, I now own a fifteen-tog heavyweight duvet, which is the minimum winter weight required, to feel cosy in bed.
I had never needed rubber boots, called Wellingtons here. The small city gardens of my past were easily managed without them, and even walking dogs I used to own was done on paved areas, or in manicured parks. We would rarely venture into the countryside on wet days, or in winter, so I was sixty years old before I realised that I would have to buy such boots, and have to wear them almost every day for six months of the year too. Not only that, I learned that I would have to have more than one pair. Lightweight ones for the spring rains, and heavy-duty lined ones for all of the winter. Then I had to get something called a boot-bag, for taking them out with me in the car.
The first bad winter here also made me worry about being stranded in the car. So I bought a tiny shovel, which I was sure would be needed at some stage. It never was though, so it was removed from the car and now hangs in the shed, looking as good as new. That set a trend for buying items that have yet to be used. With no gas in Beetley, we bought a portable gas-canister cooker, in case the electricity failed. Then added a hand lantern, for the same reason. All this new stuff had to be stored somewhere, so the useful shed outside became chock-full of ‘essential items’ that do little more than occupy space on shelves. A leaf-blower that just blew leaves around, but I still had to bend down to pick them up. A rough saw for trimming trees, that I then discovered I wasn’t allowed to cut.
I won’t bore you further with the list of white elephants that I had never thought I would need, and in most cases didn’t. But if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, think carefully about what you need, and what you buy.