Fiona Duff: There’s always a market for clutter

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My sister has decided to sell her flat. Nothing too unusual in that, you may think. However, she is in San Francisco and rather than wait until she is back in Edinburgh, and perhaps even until spring when the property market is a tad livelier, she’s going full steam ahead. Kirsty, for that is her name, is not one to be distracted from her plans by such slight matters as being more than 5000 miles away from where the action is taking place.

Of course, she decided that the first thing that had to be done is de-cluttering. Do you remember that spate of programmes a few years ago that seem to have run their course? They could have probably have done a whole series on this project. My 20-something niece who has just boomeranged back from New York (honestly, they are the more adventurous side of the family – my husband and I think a weekend in Argyll is pushing the boat out) has been put in charge of making the property “market ready”. So the poor girl, jet-lagged and granny-nagged (my mother thinks she should be looking for a new job rather than through my sister’s wardrobe) has been slaving away trying to remove the detritus of family life. Needless to say, there are several boxes and knick-knacks that needed to be out of the way, but not taken to the local dump. Well, obviously that is a matter open to debate as the local dump seems to have moved much closer to their home – in fact it is within walking distance, which I can confirm because I have walked the route many a time. So the result of all this frenzied activity is that my sister has a flat that is as neat and tidy as a furniture store show room, whereas I am now living in something akin to a charity shop that has been raided by a drunken rugby team who have been told that there is free beer on offer.

Anyway, it might be driving me up the proverbial wall, but my children are happy – with this much chaos there’s no way I could consider selling our home.