There's a corner of our property into which I am afraid to go. It was rumoured to have once been a garage, but was taken over years ago by a squadron of spiders, possibly Russian ones because I don't understand a word they are saying.
I peeped in there one winter's day, in search of a tennis ball. Or a tent. Or a gizmo for removing tents from tennis balls – I cannot recall, but the spiders are guarding what looks like a vast car boot sale full of things that we have thought might come in handy on an off since 1994. I came out with a box of fossilised fishing maggots instead.
Last weekend someone – and I'm not naming names even though there are these days often only two of us here – thought it might be nice if we could put a car in there.
You cannot argue with that kind of logic so I paid a passing kid to spray the spiders, and embarked on what was supposed to be a spring clean but turned into a journey back down two decades of child-rearing. There were tears, but only of course from the clouds of insecticide.
(At this point, if someone is badgering you to do a clear out, cut this out and say an expert from the newspaper recommends you don't do it. Or, if you have to, go ahead but buy a big box of hankies. If the person nagging you is actually a badger, drink another pint of Butcombe and see if things come into sharper focus.)
Inside the garage, which my other half likes to rhyme with (Nigel) Farage, because we is posh, was the debris of family life.
Four garish body-boards from weeks in the waves at Newquay; some mouldy canvas thing that we might have slept in; a camping cooker about which I probably ought to call the bomb squad; and a snorkel clogged with what smelled like 15-year-old elvers. All this was to distract what have since become two young adults who'd rather spend their time sipping lattes in city cafés after all-nighters listening to Futuregarage (it's a kind of music, honestly, and not a middle-aged man's fantasy).
Next came a pair of broken stabilisers, five sandwich boxes without lids, two flasks without cups, six wellies in tiny sizes but no two the same, and a gallon of sun cream of innocently pre-climate change strength. There were gadgets to attach things we no longer need to things we no longer want.
Some of it went to charity shops, and the rest to our nearest rubbish dump, where a number-plate recognition system records that one has in fact just crossed into a neighbouring council's area, and to dump your stuff there is a municipal offence.
Once in there, illegally, I opened the boot door and another clearer-outer walked into it and – I think – broke a rib, for which he blamed me.
Back home, narrowly escaping a black eye and a fine, one of my children who I forgot lives with us was standing, aghast, in the garidge (for that is how it is said). You've thrown away my childhood, she said. Still, we do now have somewhere to park the car.