The Gentle Art Of Swedish Death Cleaning

There was a time in my life when I thought television equalisation (as it was called) for regional areas was an important issue. I’d grown up in Lismore in Northern NSW with just two television stations, and then suddenly there were three, and then suddenly there were four. And now there are many more. And then suddenly “Northern Star Holdings” (my local newspaper) became a major player in Australian television. But as I looked at my copy of the Senate Report into Television Equalisation which was in one of my cupboards, I thought, quite bluntly, “Why the f…. do I still have this?”

TV Equalisation

Having been inspired by the book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning”, I’m undertaking a clean-out of my life right now. The author’s advice is generally “have a moment with all of your precious items, remember why they were important, and then throw them out”. But, as I sit and remember things, and scan some of them for prosperity, I think it won’t be an overnight job. It could take some time.

Having worked as a radio presenter for a number of years, I’ve accumulated far too many books. For the most part I’ve kept books I’ve read, books which were associated with a radio interview. But many years later, I have to wonder why I still have them. Why do I still have a book about television equalisation? Why do I still have a book about the introduction of the goods and services tax?

In cleaning out my book-case, I’ve decided to keep only those books with a genuine, long-term memory for me, and those which have been signed by the author. So far, the “reject pile” is much larger than the “keep” pile. I’m “donating” the reject pile to the back laneway, and so far, the response has been positive. Really awful books, with no interest, have gone straight to the recycling bin.

Many Books

In doing my clean-out, I also found this, which I’d imagine is from the late 1990s. I tried to peal off the tag to see the complete message, but it got stuck. I think it says something along the lines of “I might shag someone else tonight, but keep you up my sleeve in case, because you’re boyfriend material.”


In case the writer of this recognises their hand-writing, I’m available!

PS: I’m not dying.

7 Replies to “The Gentle Art Of Swedish Death Cleaning”

  1. I do this sort of cleaning periodically and it is very freeing – I don’t think I’ve ever actually missed anything (can’t believe I actually carted high school work around for years – what on earth was I thinking?)

    It must be rather easier growing up in the country today – I too suffered through the two channels (thank heavens for the ABC!) and one radio station. Naturally escaped as soon as I was able!

  2. I just revisited this page to reference it in the future and somehow I completely missed the bottom part about the note. I have kind of a memory of those post box type things where you could leave a note. Anyway, very amusing.

  3. Hello James,
    Late to this but just discovered your online blog.
    I clicked on this one because I had read earlier of your interest in things Swedish. Didn’t expect what I read but found it interesting. I too think at times I need to undertake such a clean out. Why do I still keep university lecture notes?
    Back to your interest in things Swedish and the language (how’s that going by the way?), I was wondering why? Do you have Swedish connections in your family history given your interest in that area?
    BTW, really enjoy listening to Editors Choice.
    Enjoy Mardi Gras this evening. I’ll be watching on the telly.

    1. Hi Rod. The Swedish thing. I’ve always been interested in different cultures, listened to short-wave radio as a child, studied languages at school, and specifically on Sweden, I guess it all started with ABBA! More recently, I travelled in 2008 for a few months, which included time in Sweden, and I guess I just really love so much about the place – geographically interesting, cutlurally diverse (now), and I really like their attitudes toward equality, and they make great films, books and culture. Mardi Gras was fun, and I’ll share pics and stories in the next day or so.

      1. Hello again James,
        So it was ABBA hey. Well that’s a good reason. I loved them too. I got their single Waterloo way back in 1974…..and I still have it. They never got me interested in Sweden though. My alternative cultural interest led me to Israel and I have wonderful memories of numerous visits when I lived, worked and studied Hebrew there. That led to my return to uni as a mature age student to get my BA majoring in Jewish Studies. While living in Israel I visited Egypt twice and my interest has broadened to the Middle East in general. Would love to learn Arabic but not sure my rusty brain could cope.
        My interest in Scandinavia is Denmark. My great grandfather came from there in 1894. I did one of those DNA test kits and it showed most of my DNA is from Great Britain and Ireland and small amounts from Denmark and Finland. I get emails advising me of DNA matches, but so far only one from Denmark connecting me to a 3rd – 5th cousin.
        I had hoped to travel to Denmark later this year to explore a bit there and visit the town my great grandfather came from. All that of course, is postponed now.
        Hope you are coping well in this Time of Corona.
        Best regards.

        1. You studied Hebrew? Now that sounds really hard. I’ve had one of those DNA kits in my desk draw for about eighteen months. I really must send one away. Denmark? I really love Copenhagen. When you finally make it, I can offer you some travel tips. Stay safe in these Corona times.

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