Where Memories Reside

The sell-on value of childhood toys provides a nice little windfall

I’m in a constant process of household refinement – specifically truncation. I’m trying to reduce the physical clutter of useless possessions that make my house feel heavy. I often use the analogy of mass when describing my mission to rid my house of unneeded items; when I remove something I say that I am “reducing the weight of the house”, and enjoy the feeling that my home is steadily becoming leaner and more healthy.

Earlier this year I sold a batch of my childhood toys. As a youngster I had a fixation on farm machinery – whenever we drove past a field where a combine harvester was working I would make my dad stop the car so I could watch it doing its thing. I think I liked the gross mechanisation, the pure, unadulterated industry. This farm machinery fascination extended to the toys my folks would buy me, so it was inevitable that I would end up with quite a collection of Britains farm models (plus one or two highway maintenance guys, and a cement mixer).

Most of my childhood Britains toys

On Ebay I received a fair chunk of change for my collection, and I was happy to be rid. But it seems selling treasured childhood items isn’t for everyone, as one or two people have told me that they “would hate to sell off their memories”.

I don’t share this view. For me the memories don’t reside in the objects themselves, the objects were just the medium used to deliver memories of childhood happiness into my mind. Don’t confuse this reasoning for a lack of sentimentality; it’s an objective willingness to not cling to things that don’t have the power to create memories for me any more.

When I was seven I had my fun with them. They are play-damaged, and if they still hold value for someone then that is splendid. In selling them there are winners all round – someone else gets to enjoy them (in this case an avid collector who prizes their rarity, who will endeavour to restore them), and I get a combination of the cash, the freed space, and the satisfying knowledge that they haven’t been wasted, for to reuse is better than to recycle. They’re starting a new life somewhere.

I can think of few other things in my life that have had such a fantastic return on investment; giving hundreds of hours of joy when I was a child, and recompense as an adult now that I have passed them on. Owing to their strong construction they will, in all probability, outlive my existence on this planet. In a way, rather than them being a memory in my mind, I am a memory in theirs.