Having trouble downsizing or decluttering? Get some inspiration from Elton John's mom! The following article by Jayne Dawson is a fun read:
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Should you ever meet Sheila Farebrother – please show her proper respect.
She might be a woman who prefers a quiet life, she might be downsizing to a little place on the south coast, and these might not normally be the hallmarks of a fearless pioneer, but clearly Sheila is the exception.
Because Sheila is stepping bravely into territory in which all other parents fear to tread – she is ridding herself of the possessions of one of her children, left in her safekeeping for decades.
Children do that, don't they? They desert you, they move on, they leave you bereft and they leave you jubilant, all at one and the same time.
They go to many different places, they do many different things, but one factor is constant – they always leave boxes of their possessions behind, with you, for safekeeping.
These are not possessions they want, or will ever need again, or, indeed, will ever look at again.
If your children were to articulate their thoughts on these items, those thoughts would be: "I am emotionally attached to all these leftovers of my younger life, but not emotionally attached enough to give them room in my home, so I want to solve the problem by leaving them at your house forever, because you are my mum and it is your job to solve my problems, and also to be the keeper of my past life, which I am going to pretend embarrasses me."
This is what your children would say to you, if that conversation were ever to take place. But it doesn't.
Instead what happens is this: your children move out, leaving behind their boxes full of their childhood.
They know, and you know, that at some stage you will call them and say: "Do you want this box full of your old dolls/ horror films you made when you were aged 14/ Spice Girls books?"
And they know, and you know, that they will reply: "I haven't got room for it, will you keep it?"
All over the nation there are bedrooms full of cardboard boxes, all stuffed with teenage leftovers. And these leftovers are not, repeat not, precious mementoes kept by parents who mourn the passing of the time when their children were young. No, they are boxes of junk kept resentfully by a mother and father who would much rather clear out the lot and embrace some empty space. Only their children won't let them
So parents dutifully do what is expected, and store the required items, stacked next to the boxes of blankets, and old ornaments, and bits of ancient cutlery similarly bequeathed to them, but this time by their own parents, an older generation determined to declutter without throwing away. This is yet another instance of "the squeezed middle"
But Sheila Farebrother has decided to have none of that, she has decided to get rid. And since Sheila is the mother of Elton John, she was able to do a bit better than leave the stuff outside in charity bags, or take it to the tip.
Sheila has unloaded her son's unwanted gear at a special auction where the goods for sale included all manner of starry items, like his platinum award for the first million sales of the 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and a disc commemorating 11 million sales of Candle In The Wind.
Tour jackets and VIP passes used by her for backstage access at his concerts were also among the lots, as were four silk Versace stage suits and a diamond studded crucifix.
Personally I would have been tempted to keep these items, because it is my belief you can get away with wearing more or less anything at the Women's Institute these days.
As to what prompted Sheila to take such an intrepid step, a spokesman for the auction house gave it away. Sheila, he said, used to have a large games room with shelf upon shelf to keep all the things Elton had given her, but since moving she didn't have the room any more.
So, there you have it. Elton used his mum's games room to store all the stuff he couldn't be bothered to keep in his own house(s).
Some of the items were even autographed, which must have been odd, and yet more proof that Elton was doing what all sons do and using his mum to store his cast-offs, since he surely can't have believed she needed his autograph.
But we should be grateful to Sheila, for she has empowered us. Where Elton John's mum leads, the rest of us can follow.
With us, it might be old train sets rather than gold and platinum discs but the principle is the same. Thank you Sheila, you are standing up for the rest of us. You are a mum in a million."
More on downsizing:
Three Steps to Downsizing to a Smaller Residence
Three Steps to Decluttering
The Advantages of Downsizing