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February 1998 Issue
The Useful Drawer
by Krafty
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Have you ever heard that saying "Keep it for seven years, throw it away and you’ll need it?"

I went through an obsessive stage once upon a time, when I kept bags of bags and boxes of boxes in the loft - just in case. Each box and bag was sorted according to size and type, and stored neatly away inside one slightly larger. That was all very well, until I needed a small box or a small bag, and had to undo the whole system to get at it. It must have filled some perverse psychological need somewhere along the line. I don’t do it now because I have moved into a house where I can’t get into the loft.

I was thinking about this the other day when I was looking for a small bag. I had sold one of my hand-painted, hand-made cork boxes to my daughter-in-law-to-be as a Christmas stocking-filler for her mother. I wanted her to take it away in a nice, crisp, preferably pretty paper bag to protect it until she could gift wrap it (presentation is everything, even for an amateur). All I had to hand were some freezer bags and a very large, very crumpled, slightly torn brown paper bag. This, I thought did not look good. I was on the verge of promising myself to save every bag I came across for this purpose, but stopped suddenly as I remembered the sense of bereavement I experienced when I had to throw out my precious stocks last time.

I confess I am still a bit of a ‘squirrel’, but at least now I do something with what I store away (even if it is not immediately) and I know I am not the only one who derives a great deal of satisfaction and glee from being able to sing out "I told you it would come in useful".

My partner has stopped raising an eyebrow at the bits and pieces I keep in the Useful Drawer, because he knows I can cite the times when they have rescued us. In exchange, I have stopped saying "I told you so" aloud.

I also have a Useful Drawer in my head, for quotes, addresses, etc., and especially the handy hints I have picked up over the years. Some I have tried, some I am still sceptical about, and some of them I want to share with you.

Instead of making a New Year Resolution, I have a tradition of sorting out my pockets and bags. It never fails to amaze me what I stuff in there - it’s like a time machine. This year I found a supermarket receipt from last March, two scraps of material I didn’t recognise at all, an empty purse (spare, just in case), a ragged piece of paper with a phone number written on it but no name, and three "In the event of my death..." donor cards all with out of date information. The purse stayed. Everything else went into the bin.

Next day, I was dusting (yes, me!) the TV and decided it was time to get rid of the spilled candlewax from Christmas. The offending blobs would not push off; I didn’t want to use a knife to prise it up (I know from experience that that leaves scratches); the same applies to the kitchen scourer; I didn’t want to apply heat because I’m very heavy handed and that might melt the TV. So where did I go for help? The bin! Those plastic donor cards make perfect scrapers and they don’t leave scratches - even on precious furniture.

Now I only have to tidy out my Useful Drawer to make room for this valuable new tool!

I’ll let you know what I find.



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