Follow one crying eye on

It’s the little things

I am clearing out my bedside drawer. Oh yes, the excitement is verging on the insane for an autumn afternoon. I might need a lie-down now (under a blanket; it’s so cold!)

(Instead, she wraps a woollen shawl round her hunched shoulders and tries some keyboard exercise to keep the blood pumping – and to recall, for posterity and of course for your edification, the thrilling contents of said drawer.)


There are 25 pens. Hotel pens (Marriott particularly prevalent), conference pens, cheap emergency-purchase Bics, employee (ahem) ‘loan’ fibre-tips, a couple of smarter engraved (but not personalised) ballpoints and one solitary and sadly dried-out cartridge pen. Four of these fail to work – a further brief but nicely warming scribbling exercise is required to ascertain this – but the others can surely find better homes elsewhere in this establishment.

There is a stash of buttons, mostly corralled into two small plastic wallets which have partially self-shredded, meaning that colourful bits of wood, metal and fabric-covered plastic reach variously into the four dusty corners. So that’s where they’ve been hiding. I have looked more than once in other likely drawers in the past when the lockdown sewing group made appeals for buttons – to no avail. And they were so close!

Separate from the buttons are several lapel badges – your standard Red Cross and British Legion Poppy ones, but also a couple of Ernst & Young Africa Tax conference badges. (Oh the memories of the several visits I made to these lavish events over the years. There are many other mementoes around the house, including a small folding table I once managed to ram into my suitcase – but I’d forgotten these little yellow Africa-shaped pins. I don’t need them all though – just one will suffice.)

Carefully filed at one side of the drawer are numerous ancient store and hotel loyalty cards and a couple of extinct gift cards. Most of these are now carefully cut in half and filed in the bin.

Here are my defunct BA Gold cards (sigh). Don’t get me started.

Three watches, kept for sentimental reasons as I no longer wear a watch, are randomly distributed around the drawer. One is a long-ago present from my parents and I keep it even though I don’t much like it. Another is, I think, my mother’s which I keep for similarly sentimental reasons. The third I like and it will doubtless be fashionable again one day. (Not one of them is of monetary value, I hasten to add.)

Here’s an empty ring case which should house my engagement ring, but I have not taken it off since I once thought I’d lost it on stage when in pantomime. “Oh no I hadn’t!” (Sorry.) It was safely in my purse all along. But I don’t risk it anymore and am fairly sure that I have not removed it now for the past 18 years. There is a second ring-case which contains two battered and completely worthless rings which belonged to my Great-Aunt Stella (my hero). Hilariously I once took these to a jeweller (in Hatton Garden, because that was near to where I was working at the time) to check “just in case”. They were very polite…

Also lurking unprotected are three pairs of prescription spectacles, all of which would still be useful if my current pairs were lost or broken.  Why I need all three I am not sure. One pair is almost invisible from a distance when worn, so these are useful for dressing up when singing in the folk choir when I still need to read. Of course, if I could learn all the words…

Much of the drawer space is taken up by several tubes of hand cream and foot restorer. I admit that these are slightly stockpiled, as I purchase them only when I can get a discount. I deem them ridiculously expensive otherwise. The surplus reveals that I succumb to rather more come-ons than I had thought – sucker! – or that I am very sparing in my use of these necessary skin-savers. Guilty on both counts methinks.

Inevitably for a drawer of any sort, there are coins of all varieties, some of which still have actual currency (LOL) and I have filed these in my purse to moulder there instead, or in the relocated hidden swag bag labelled ‘foreign’. Whilst I like to see a small representative sample of loose change from my globetrotting days and enjoy unearthing these from time to time, it is mostly annoying that I have accumulated so much now-useless coinage. I will one day get round to taking it to a charity collection or something.

Usefully, there are a couple of suitcase padlocks. I used one of these this summer when I realised that my suitcase didn’t close properly any more. Sometimes keeping old stuff can come in handy.

Oh, here are some keys. House keys – not for this house. Not sure whose house really. Defer decision.

Car keys! I think these must be to my mother’s long-gone VW Polo and have only been kept because of the hilarious key fobs sporting pictures of yours truly and little brother, each school-age with our gormless mugshots captured forever in moulded plastic. Definite keep.

And now for the medication: painkillers of many types including my current prescription stuff which seems to be working better than anything else so far (yay!). Surprisingly, nothing is past its safety date. This perhaps simply reflects on the enormous quantities of ibuprofen and paracetamol consumed until very recently.

At the bottom I unearth my own birth certificate. A horrible reminder of my great age. And the names I still don’t like. Should probably not be in here but in a strong box somewhere else in the house.

At the very back I find two tiny plastic wrist-bands, become brittle with age, which I saved from my two babies. These actually make me cry as I inspect them. Each has my name and hospital number on it, plus the date and time of birth of each of the offspring. The first one says BOY and reminds me he made his appearance – finally on the third day – at mid-afternoon tea-time. The second fails to record the femininity of the child, but it was the middle of the night and the staff were probably tired (huh! THEY were tired??). Or they had changed the hospital protocols in the intervening 2 years 10 days 10 hours and 40 minutes. Who knows? 

There should be two sets of baby teeth in here somewhere too – but I don’t find them which means either that I have carefully stowed them elsewhere to make an emotional and mildly macabre appearance at some future clearing-out session, or that the tooth fairy has finally reclaimed what was rightfully hers!

Aside from the meds and the items which could still be used, much of the above has now been jettisoned or relocated. What remains has been carefully regimented which I am hoping will engender a calm and orderly feeling when I need to retrieve pills or creams. 

There are two other drawers in my bedside table. One has a selection of scarves and wraps, and has been gently winnowed over the years. The other houses a sad collection of funeral notices, eulogies and other mementoes including all the cards and letters received after my mother’s death six years ago. I can’t bring myself to sort through this lot right now. It may be where those baby teeth are lurking though.

I’ll wait for a warmer day…

Post script: I left the house after writing the above to attend a Pilates class. When I returned, the heating was on. I am not one to question or overrule, and will admit to being quietly pleased that I am now absolved from all heating-related decision-making, so hurrah and welcome to winter.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow one crying eye on