This is another poem that was prompted by a sleepless night. I’ve had a lot of those lately. It’ll start off with just being uncomfortable, or too hot and then before I know it, my mind is racing and I know that if I don’t head downstairs and start writing things down, I’ll lose these ideas forever.
This poem came about because I started to think about the amount of things I buy and then don’t really use. Or rather, I use them – I’m not a complete idiot – but either nowhere near as much as I should or nowhere near early enough. I’m prone to getting them and then putting them away and all but forgetting they exist. Perhaps the poem can explain…
A list of items that I bought but could not bring myself to use properly…
Books have been a favourite for years, added to the weekly shop or gifted from an Amazon wishlist where they’d sat, forgotten about, until Christmas or birthdays. From there it would be off to a box in the loft and forgotten again. And while I’ll endeavour to read them deep into retirement, I’m already praying for someone to leave boxes of books to in my will.
Trainers are a similar addiction. My two feet will forever have a choice of pairs that run well into double figures, while not, in fact, running at all. And my two feet will never actually be enough. The thrill is in the chase. The irony is that the chase will not be performed in these under-used trainers.
Although in possession of what I feel is an unusually small head, I am somewhat obsessed with hats. Inevitably though, they will adorn my bonce but once, before embarrassment overcomes me and the charity shops feels the benefit.
A new jacket, on the other hand, will rarely be left to wait for a rainy day, unlike several fresh umbrellas now resident underneath the passenger seat of my car. Meanwhile, new shoes must stay boxed for as long as I can stand to wear the four other, older pairs in what is a perverse stance taken to kid myself that I’m getting my money’s worth out of said shoes.
Inhalers are collected and stacked, incongruous, in a drink’s cabinet, while I continue to use those that are long out of date, desperate to squeeze more life out of both of us, while stockpiling fresh cures as if saving for a particularly dusty, hazy day. Similarly, the artwork with the quirky quotes will forever fail to inspire or advertise how fun family life can be while they’re in a bag behind an armchair.
Chinos – always a good idea at the time – will remain stashed in a wardrobe, living up to their slim fit billing by squeezing expertly between suits. Occasionally, when I fancy a change, they will lay on the bed to be stared at, before being thrust back into storage as change is given a rest and I slide back into battered jeans.
And then there are the tiny ‘pint’ glasses, stolen from a bar in the good ‘ol U.S of A. Too small to be used, but too cool to be left behind in their rightful place. Or in fact bought.
And finally, let’s spare a thought, for the entire bathroom suite that was once stored upstairs in our house for months, because the trauma of finding a plumber meant it was easier to clamber over a bath taking residence in a back bedroom, than invite a tradesman to our house. For a while we were possibly the only house in Yorkshire with an unplumbed toilet sat on the landing. And maybe that’s a price worth paying for an claim as unique as that.
I think they call it ‘the thrill of the chase’. That feeling of excitement at getting something that then has a strange habit of wearing off once you’ve actually got it. People blame it for everything from the failure of a marriage or relationship to the reason that we all know that a pet is not just for Christmas. And I think partly, that’s what this poem’s about. Not pets, but the thrill of chasing shiny things and then almost instantly losing at least some of your interest. It’s generally attributable to me in our house, but I think we’re all perfectly capable of it too.
In my loft I have boxes of unread books. I have boxes of some of the ones I’ve read as well, that are too precious to pass on to charity or another willing reader, but I box them up and most likely won’t look at them again for years, if at all. The unread ones started as a small pile when I started working after university. And then disposable income happened. It’s a terrible habit and I must have four big boxes full of ‘to-read’ books. There are so many books in there that sometimes, when it’s time to choose my next one, I’ll discover something that I’d forgotten about entirely. And while this is a lovely surprise (although it can also be quite perplexing) it should also tell me that I need to cut down on the number of books I buy.
Some of the things that inspired the poem are things that I really have no use for. Hats are the best example. I don’t suit them as my head is more akin to a peanut and therefore hats swamp me. I mean, when was the last time you saw a peanut wearing a hat outside of a cartoon?
The point with this poem is that it could have been a much bigger poem. An epic poem about the least epic things you can think of. Believe it or not, I have got better at this as I’ve grown older. I used to buy a lot more. I never got full use out of any of it.
I’m quite proud of this poem. It’s a bit more of a rambling effort than usual – who knew that was possible – but I like it. And that isn’t always the case. But this poem brings back happy memories. For instance those stolen glasses mentioned in stanza 7 were purloined on a holiday to Boston and then packed away carefully inside towels and clothes in order to preserve them on the long flight home. We’ve never used them since getting them home, but I can still picture us sitting in the bar with mile wide grins on our faces because they looked so good and we were going to take them with us! Maybe I’ll get them out at home and just gaze at them, like an art installation…
I hope you enjoyed the poem. As always, I’d be interested to know people’s opinions, so feel free to leave a comment.