The Cupboard of Chaos

Everyone has it. The cupboard that seems to function as a portal to another dimension. Not in a magical ‘gateway to Narnia’ fashion, but in a ‘put things into it and they vanish off the face of the Earth’ sort of way.

Shortly after embracing the ways of decluttering, I made an attempt to bring order to my cupboard of chaos. I bought neat plastic storage boxes, sorted the contents of the cupboard into themed piles – Practical Things, Sentimental Things, Books Taking A Break From The Bookshelf, The 28 Different Attachments That Came With The Hoover – and rehoused them in the boxes.

It was marvellous. The cupboard door opened (smoothly, with nothing falling against it) to reveal neat stacks of precious memories and orphaned cabling, dog-eared Doctor Who novelisations, and a temperamental lava lamp.

Predictably this state of orderly nirvana lasted about a fortnight. Magical untidying pixies ran amok in the night, and soon the cupboard was back to looking like Steptoe’s Yard crammed into the size of a telephone box. Only now with added big plastic boxes. Less Marie Kondo and more Marie Kond-Oh No That Won’t Do At All.

Recently, I was carefully negotiating the clutter while looking for something, when my shoulder dislodged a bulky carrier bag from a shelf. I caught it before it fell, but as I did so, a bauble broke free and bounced festively floorwards.

As I put the bag of Christmas decorations back on the shelf, I reflected that this could solve a problem that confronts us at another time of year.

At Hop Tu Naa (or Halloween if you must), vast swathes of the land are bedecked with mildly spooky and luridly gory decorations, mostly crafted from decidedly non-biodegradable plastic. Unlike their Christmas counterparts, Hop Tu Naa decorations seem to be purchased anew every year. By the start of November, unwanted creepy accoutrements are in charity shops at best, in binbags at worst.

Are there any ecologically-minded fright fans who pack their plastic skeletons and devil horns away ready for re-use, in the same way that people do with Christmas things? It could be less tricky and more of a treat for the environment if it caught on.

Yes, it would mean more stuff cluttering up cupboards everywhere. But those places are mysterious twilight zones, apparently capable of holding more tat than seems possible. As a home for your Hop Tu Naa gubbins, they’re spookily suitable.

[An earlier version of this article appeared in the Isle of Man Examiner in 2017. ]

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