HOARDER OR TOSSER?

So I’m walking down my suburb yesterday and it’s verge cleanup day. The title is different from state to state and country to country but it’s that time of the year where you put the detritus of your life on the verge and the Council comes by and collects it if somebody hasn’t scavenged it already. What interests me is that I know the suburb well enough and have been living here long enough that I can pretty much predict where large piles of stuff will be and what the quality might be like. I started thinking about how our personalities might be divided into Hoarder or Tosser and I have a feeling that this is one of those rare times where there is no grey area, you are either one or the other. The people with the good stuff out front of their dwellings are clearly Tossers, and when I use this word I mean it in the nicest possible way because I am a Hoarder and envy the free-wheeling nature of a Tosser who can let go of possessions without a second glance. My wife thankfully is a Tosser. Whereas I hummed and ha’d over whether to ditch a fan that works only on the lowest setting, she was definite it had to go. Her mother on the other hand is a grand poo bah of Hoarders. One has to actually walk sideways down the hallway of the house because it is crammed with boxes. Now while this is not a great state of affairs, especially since much of what is in those boxes would be rejected by a hungry rat, I won’t say this is entirely a bad thing because where else would I have been given a genuine Rolf Harris stylophone in its original box, not to mention some fabulous late 50s early 60s Hawaiian shirts? Like me, my father was a hoarder. At least of his own things. When I packed up the garage after he died there were still tram tickets and sales dockets from the 1940s. Mind you, he didn’t have any qualms selling off my collection of footy cards for a song while I was over east touring. I still gnash my teeth at the loss of a complete collection of pristine Scanlon chewing gum cards of the VFL circa 1966, not to mention books of WA Mobil footy cards. Mum on the other hand is a tosser. One season on, out go shoes, dresses, handbags. For her the fun is in the act of buying the item, not of storing and quietly enjoying a memory as one might a smooth brandy. Recently I went through an old box of stuff that I’d stored when I left Perth for Sydney twenty-five years ago. In it were so many “treasures”. One of my favourites was an old transistor radio which I first bought in London in 1975 at the Brixton street market for about 50p. It no longer works, but when I hold it I am instantly transported to my cold bedroom in Brixton with a one-bar radiator, where I would huddle listening to a soccer match, or a pop song from forgotten groups like Sparks. That transistor was with me when I wrote Convict Streak and Worst Day and it gives me more pleasure than any new I-Zod or 6Gmobile-office could. But, on the other hand, how many years I have held onto junk only to finally pitch it in the bin after it clogged my room with dust for five to ten years? Sometimes in my line of work, I simply have to keep hard copies of things I’ve written because you can never trust a “back-up” to still work. Recently, I ditched a film script I’d been commissioned to write after holding it for seven years. Actually there were several drafts, a whole box full. I decided the movie would never be made. Within two months of ditching it, I found out the film was being shot and I hadn’t been credited so I had to go through all my old backup “floppy disks” hoping to find one that had the script on it. Fortunately I eventually did. However, I guess I’m not really talking here of those things we need to keep like Tax records, it’s more the stuff that almost works, or nearly fits, or has been passed over by new technology. My father and my mother-in-law, big league Hoarders, both went through tough times early in their lives. My Dad’s family lost almost everything in the Great Depression so maybe it is a psychological thing, a fear of letting go something we paid for with hard earned cash? Or that could be a coincidence. It’s not like I suffered tough times as a kid. And what of the Tossers, how can they so easily get rid of things? Is it because they suspect something better is just around the corner? Are they more confident in their ability to find success again and again?
I have a feeling Freud may have suggested it was all to do with toilet training, that aside, what I’m curious about is, which are you – Hoarder or Tosser? Is this the fundamental character difference of all? And are the best marriages/partnerships/relationships between opposites.

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