This is what our beautifully cleared, cleaned, repainted and re-staired hallway looked like a few days ago, and a short time after I took the photos of it in a previous post. The man from le pressing, the dry cleaners, dropped off all the clothes, bedding, soft furnishings, carpets that he had taken away two days after the fire, cramming it all astonishingly into a small van, and then doing so again to bring it back again.
There were things I had quite forgotten about, clothes which were lying around the bedroom or else on the clothes airer on the landing, a car seat cover I must have washed, humongous amounts of spare bedding stored in the spare rooms that bore the brunt of the smoke damage. There were many things, such as our winter jackets that were hanging in the hall, and the light, sleeveless many-pocketed walking waistcoats, which we had rather missed, especially as the chillier weather drew on.
Yet I haven't been able to rejoice in the return of this stuff as much as I expected. It wasn't just the work of sorting it out, that is more or less done now. It was the sense of the weight and clutter of stuff descending on us again; I'd got used to managing with less. The new parquet looks rather nice without rugs on it. Do we really need all that spare bedding for the luxury of changing our own coverings as we fancy with the seasons, and the maybe once yearly visits of friends and family? Should I decide once and for all I am never going to wear that shade of red again and get rid of that jacket or not? How many old fleecy blankets does Elfie really need? Even wrapping up for colder walks in our comparatively mild Brittany climate seems to be adequately served by fleeces and sweaters covered with waterproofs and topped with scarves, gloves and other knitwear accessories, rather than such a selection of padded and weatherproof overcoats.
The purging energy that enabled us to cull our belongings so ruthlessly through our itinerant summer seems to have rather deserted us, indecision is taking hold, perhaps too with the recognition that what with the inevitable costs the insurance didn't cover, exchange rate fluctuations (' and fluc you Europeans too!*') financial uncertainty on both micro and macro levels, we won't be able afford to ditch everything and start again, even if that were a good thing to do. The Bonfire of the Vanities is rather guttering out, I fear.
The main cause of inhibition, though, is the absolutely beautiful job they've made of it. According to their claims, without noxious solvents and in an ecologically friendly way, they have returned our textiles to us in such immaculate, crisp, pristine condition, it nigh breaks my heart to get any of it out of the wrappers and get it all dirty and crumpled and hairy again. Even an old waterproof, bought at Milletts in the UK at least twenty-five years ago, which we have both worn for every kind of rough work - exterior painting, cement mixing, compost shifting, tree surgery... has come back sleek and folded and, gosh yes, it was blue wasn't it?! (It is also the only waterproof with a zip that never stuck, broke or split up from the bottom in that annoying way, so it deserves to be kept).
I feel somehow unworthy of all this newly emerged freshness, and that I should perhaps save it for another stage of life. So while it has been sorted and stored, and a certain amount successfully culled, much of it is staying in its plastic for now.
* the Japanese lady and the bank teller, if you must know. I heard it in New Zealand as 'Europeans' rather than 'white people', and prefer it thus. Pace anyone who might be offended.