Tim Keen


Tim Keen

YOU’VE HEARD OF MARIE KONDO, the Japanese tidying mogul who has taken the world by storm by pioneering such radical concepts as “folding things” and “putting things away”. If you’ve watched an episode of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, you’ll have learned two things: one, watching other people do basic housework makes that camera-strapped-to-the-Ghan show look like an action movie; and two, humanity is doomed.


People say with a straight face that they don’t know how to deal with the clutter in their home, and are amazed when the elf-like Kondo points out that instead of throwing everything on the floor, they could use the chest of drawers sitting neglected in the corner of the room.

“Thank you for bringing joy into our home,” these gormless geese honk, as though the problem was one of learning rather than willpower. Has anyone ever really bought and assembled a chest of drawers, and then sat pensively on a pile of laundry like Rodin’s Thinker trying to figure out what it’s for?

Anyone who honestly needs someone to teach them how drawers work shouldn’t be living on their own, they should be in a care home with nurses wiping the dribble off their chin. It’s not even like she helps with the tidying. She just tells you with a smile to pick up your crap, then vanishes for a week, then comes back to see if you did it. How To Nag And Have People Love You For It, with Marie Kondo.

And so I sat in front of the TV, as annoyingly smug as a Patriots fan, until it was time to take the dog to the vet... when I discovered I couldn’t get her in the backseat of the family car because it was filled with enormous bags of discarded clothing (a side effect of watching Kondosan, who espouses the wisdom of downsizing one’s wardrobe while somehow still wearing a different outfit in every scene.)

When I was a footloose bachelor the back of my station wagon was filled with sensible things like fishing rods and flippers and old street directories. Now the back of our family car is filled with huge faux

tartan plastic bags filled with thirty thousand blouses and so-lastseason winter coats. And under all of it was the seatbelt attachment that secures the pooch in place.

I should have driven the lot to a charity bin. In my youth, charity bins seemed to be dotted all across the landscape, but now just a handful remain, each carefully placed in the middle of nowhere to be equitably inconvenient for everyone; and I knew I’d never make it there and back in time for the vet, who takes a far dimmer view of being kept waiting than she does of making me wait.

I could have gone spelunking amidst the bags of blouses, searching for the doggy seatbelt like a Thai cave diver, but with a far slimmer chance of success and a far greater risk of suffocation. Instead, I decided to fasten her leash to the front seat seatbelt, which we used to do more often until she spewed up a volcanic flow of kibble and steaming bile all over the seat, door and carpet, strategically timed for when we were the airport tunnel so I had no chance to pull over. Which reminded me, I had sworn at the time to get right under the seat and do a forensic clean-up of her Science Diet upchuck, but was deterred by the snowdrift of Magnum wrappers and empty water bottles in the passenger footwell. Scientists bemused by the disappearance of the floating garbage island in the North Pacific Gyre, good news: I’ve found it, it’s in the front of our car.

How do cars accumulate such masses of rubbish? Marie Kondo should refocus her efforts - neatening up someone’s t-shirt drawer ain’t nothin’ compared with the wholesale excavation required of cleaning out the family car. We’ve gone through an improbable amount of wrappers and bottles and hair ties since the last time I cleaned out the car, which was only… uh… well, it seems like I did it sometime recently… I remember thinking President Obama was doing a good job and wondering whether Jon Snow was really dead… oh. I see.

Help me, Obi-Wan Kondo. You’re my only hope.