There comes a time in every household when a council kerbside waste pick-up may be required.
Indicators often include intolerance to furniture that is so allegedly unattractive, out of fashion and uncomfortable the cat will no longer scratch it, charity organisations won't accept it and you can't shift it on Market Place.
Other markers include clutter from different periods of your life, including the Jurassic, stashed in every household cavity. Which would be OK if it didn't flop out every time you opened a cupboard with the resultant emotional distress dictating that if something isn't done soon, something bad's going to happen.
These are probably exaggerations, or concise summaries of reality, depending on your enthusiasm for change, but make no mistake, once the drums start beating, you better read the room. Within the next year, at least, otherwise life could go on just as it has, and that seems to be the problem.
As with most evil empires, sometimes you have to tear things down, and a council kerbside pick-up can be that revolutionary moment of change. Looked at from a recycling, food chain perspective, it's simply the urban eco-system in action. You put stuff out and organisms from around the eco-system feast. I know I have in the past. I'll never forget that ping-pong table I nabbed that night way back when. Mainly because it's still in the garage - largely unplayed after the novelty wore off. (I think it was about the third or fourth game.)
More from Simon Walker: The complete That's Life archive
The pivotal moment with clean-outs is the all-important decision to let go, and let's not kid ourselves, letting go of "stuff" is not easy. Who knows, you may need or want stuff down the track; "down the track" being a fluid concept in time stretching potentially to eternity. Stuff's already been stashed under the house 20 years. Oh the memories.
People say hold on to what you've got because, obviously, you've got a lot. The trick is recognising the difference between sentimental value and hoarding. Kerb-side pickups help in that regard. If you let it go chances are you didn't want it, or even know you had it. Just ensure, from a relationship perspective, the stuff being let go of is not you.
Not that people necessarily go through the council to offload. Some people just chuck stuff out the front and wait. In other jurisdictions they call that littering. But dumped out the front of your house, it seems to elevate into a legitimate civic service, giving whoever might want what you don't the chance to have a sift.
You're rolling the dice though because maybe no-one will pick up. Stuff laying out the front of your house can become unsightly and may attract goats, if not a strange sense of banjo music playing nearby.
Best try donating to a charity first or holding a garage sale to confirm that what you've got really is total rubbish. Then if you're not confident the urban eco-system can take care of business, seek deliverance from the council. In that decluttered way you can then re-start the process of accumulation all over again.