Hidden in the midden

The student flat I shared in St Andrews had been built in 1904 and like many Scottish houses from that period was cold, damp and draughty.  There was a hall cupboard used as a store, where we would put unwanted items that we couldn't think of anywhere else to put.  As time went by it gradually filled up with rubbish.  One of our number christened it "the midden," a Scottish word for a rubbish pile or dunghill, though we never put the perishable debris into it that the word implies.  There were so many items stored in it that the door would burst open unless the key was turned in the lock.  Clearing it out was a major operation, rarely performed. It was like looking back in time as long-forgotten items surfaced briefly on their way to a more formal rubbish tip.

I suppose other people store unwanted rubbish in their garages or in their attics in the false roof, but I have seldom lived anywhere with a garage attached or a false roof attic, so I acquired the habit, from those St Andrews days, of storing unwanted, anomalous items on shelves inside a boiler room or utility room.  I still call it "the midden," and still find clearing it out occasionally to be a daunting task, rarely undertaken.