I’m the accidental declutterer - I’ve already lost my baubles!

PUBLISHED: 19:12 22 December 2019 | UPDATED: 19:12 22 December 2019

We're not even into the12 days of Christmas and Helen's already lost her baubles

We're not even into the12 days of Christmas and Helen's already lost her baubles


Columnist Helen McDermott is slowly but surely getting in the Christmas spirit

When I got there the cupboard was bare. Well at least it was bare of the box I'd put the baubles in. Every year when Twelfth Night comes and we strip the tree I carefully put (well, carefully throw) the baubles and other adornments into boxes and cram them into the top shelf of the bedroom cupboard. This year they'd all vanished, apart from the tree itself. We got it some years ago, a sturdy thing of wire and glass. I suppose that having such an environmentally impeccable tree made us "woke" before anybody knew what woke was.

Meanwhile, back at the cupboard, because the other half finds it more difficult to get up the ladder I have to climb up instead. The trouble is that I've shrunk to five foot one-and-a-half so can't easily reach anything, therefore I must have put all the Christmas stuff somewhere more convenient, somewhere so convenient that after searching everywhere I could think of we couldn't find a thing. Could this be the work of a naughty elf or a group of bauble bandits out to make mischief? Were they working hand in glove for the shops who wanted to up the sales of Christmas deccies by making me go and buy some new ones?

For the first time in about 30 years I had to go bauble-shopping. It turned out that as far as the shops were concerned the start of December meant that Christmas was already on its way out so they were offering baubles and decorative stuff at half price. It grieved me to see this but on the other hand it did save me a few bob.

The business of the baubles going astray set me thinking. What if there's an elf that's moved in permanently? More and more things seem to be going missing lately then suddenly turning up where I'd put them in the first place. Why is it that I can search the drawer where I know I'd safely put the keys but can't find them? Then I look again later and there the damned things are.

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Where do all the pairs of glasses go? I have them all over the place but can never find the ones I want when I need them. Ah yes, there they are, just where I left them before the elf took them away for a while and then brought them back to exactly the same spot when I wasn't looking.

My dad had a naughty elf about the house, one with a dental fixation. Dad was frequently losing his false teeth after he took them out to give his mouth a bit of a rest. Sometimes they would turn up stuffed down the side of his chair or up on a shelf, wherever the teeth elf had chosen to hide them.

There was one occasion when the elf was more mischievous than usual and they disappeared completely. My mum was driven potty trying to find them. After a few days of toothless, fruitless searching dad gave up and settled for getting a new set. It took a while for them to be made and fitted during which time he had to settle for a diet of soup and custard. He also had to avoid smiling for fear of frightening people to death.

This wouldn't have bothered the painter David Hockney's dad. He used to take his teeth out on purpose in order to do imitations of the Emperor of Japan. Then he'd put them back in again and say sympathetically "Oh well, I suppose he can't help it."

The day my dad's new teeth were ready he found the old ones. They were in his slippers.

Elves thrive on clutter. That's why I've wondered if this Christmas it would be worth asking for Anita Forbes (EDP, December 13) to move in. She's Norfolk's answer to Marie Kondo, a professional organiser who advises on decluttering. "I was born to be neat," she says, whereas I was born to be a slob. She could be my only hope. We're cluttered everywhere. Should 2020 be the year of the Great Declutter and the banishing of The Elf?

And now I've finished writing this I must go and look for my glasses to try and read the wretched thing. Merry Christmas.

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