Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Hiroshima

Short of burning the house down to get rid of the moths, the present course of action is as extensive as it can go. The loft conversion in this house has cupboards all around the eaves, into which I have crammed many many years of accumulated junk. The moth larvae have set up house here.

I have spent the past three days clearing this out, sorting out and hauling about fifty black bags down the 35 stairs to be stashed in the front garden from where I hope to persuade a young man with a van to take it to the dump.

I have found: letters dating back to the mid-70s that were yesterday's version of email, files, old magazines, large sets of my mother's Royal Albert dinner and tea services, tarnished silver, a suitcase full of clothes I last wore in the early 80s, when, without my understanding it at the time, I must have been actually thin.

A love letter to my father, not from my mother.

But mostly, just dusty moth-infested rubbish. And however long I keep going, there is always another box.

More fumigation. More vaccuming. And on Thursday the carpet cleaners are coming.

Lesson: Do not store old carpets.

13 comments:

Deja Pseu said...

Yikes. Sounds like this epic battle has effectively taken over your life right now.

Toby Wollin said...

Yes. The battle royal: Linda Grant vs. the moths. For those of us who are fond of cheesy Japanese monster films of the 1950s, it is taking on the character of Mothra(sorry) or even the horrid six foot long insect larvae which were the diet of Rodan, the supersonic flying dinosaur. On a personal note, I have a huge stash of fabrics in plastic tubs which are regularly dosed with (legal here; not legal in the UK, I think)those horrific naptha-based moth balls. I searched through one of the tubs this morning to do a bit of "stash shopping", to find material for a new skirt and popped open the tub labeled, "Bottom weight; woven" to find...lovely fabrics which I had totally forgotten I had(I love stash shopping for that reason) and...no moths but a very strong odor of moth balls which the pre-treatment will take care of. Courage, Linda - I see this much like the Herculean task I faced when I had to clean out my parents' home after their deaths: mind-bending, at times disgusting, necessary..and in the end, liberating.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about your moth invasion. I once was invaded by carpet beatles probably from a thrift store item or maybe from other apts in my building. I almost ended up throwing away all my woolens. Glad you have things stored carefully.

phyllis said...

That carpet cleaning will feel really cathartic. And when it's done you deserve to treat yourself to something really nice!

Linda Grant said...

So far the costs are: £30 to take the rubbish to the dump; £90 for carpet cleaning; £60 dry cleaning. All for a few moths.

Still, it is a kind of purgation. Shame I'm not Catholic or it would feel much better.

Anonymous said...

Courage, dear Linda!

-- desertwind

Anastasia said...

I once found a denim miniskirt from the 80s in the back of my closet. I do remember wearing it. I really liked it back then and it was soo comfortable. I must have been really tiny back then, today I couldn't squeeze one leg into it if I wanted to - - - ah, the days of innnocent youth when one has a fabulous body without being aware of it or doing anything for it!

I wish you the best of luck and go Godzillla on your mothras!

Betty Sue said...

Oh Linda, what a saga. Good luck with the clean out and I hope you find some hidden treasures to make up for it.

dana said...

Back in my single, nomadic days, I moved once every year or two, which really kept these issues down. You have inspired me to keep the house from not becoming a museum. However, what to do with the love letters? Some things really aren't pitchable, are they? Best wishes for a quick ending.

indigo16 said...

I do feel for you. A few years back a mouse set a home under the stairs, I shrugged thinking it was cute until someone told me they were incontinent. When I pulled all the stuff out he had destroyed most of my art college folders my bags of unmounted family snaps and a sewing machine! Yet in a strange way I felt a burden of history lifted. My partner knows my ability to fill a domestic cavity, so when we converted our loft he insisted the eaves were left open, plastered and painted. I can see why.

musette said...

I am so sorry...

lagatta said...

Oh dear. Tiring too. I ache all over after doing such a task (such as my last move). Age concern.

The only silver lining is that it is "material" for a future novel or study of dress and habitation.

But guilt and purgation - don't Jews do that as well as Catholics, but in a different way? (Think Freud in Catholic Vienna, Leonard Cohen in Catholic Montreal). I'm lapsed Cath, SO lapsed Jewish. We both do guilt very well, but with different intonations.

Ms Baroque said...

Oh God, I am reading with horror. My ex-husband's house has moths - all of Stoke Newington has, apparently - and I think a few of them have come over with the kids, because a few moth holes have been appearing in the past year or so. But nothing on the scale you describe! Awful.

Mind you, among the few things that got eaten here was a heavy cream silk satin negligée set from the 1930s, worn by some great-aunt or other. Very Ginger Rogers, but it was too small for me even when my grandmother gave it to me, when I was about 18. (But even with the moth-holes I've had to save it: the amazing lace...!)