I’ve a petty irritation entirely of my own making, which makes it as vile to me as it is feeble: I seem to have an unyielding inability to discard fine packaging. Not any old thing – cellophane wrappers go straight in the bin, of course, but the real, hardcore, designed for tactile worship stuff, and there’s loads of it. Perhaps it’s a peripheral effect of my hoarding sensibilities, or I simply treasure sparkling baubles, but if, say, I buy a splendid new widget from the Apple store, and it comes in a smart cardboard casket that opens in a clever way, then you can be sure that that box shall have a home for all of eternity in some valuable corner of my space starved flat, even though it will never (and quite possibly due to its esoteric design, can never) be used again.

But one or two boxes aren’t the problem – my shameful obsession is so much more trivial than that. If I’m honest, even plastic bags have some terrible distorting effect on my common sense – I project unwarranted and irrelevant value upon them, even as they fester in a swelter of mould and dust, as if their refinement by association with the things they once carried makes them too grand for their fate to be left to an undiscerning heathen like me. This one’s from a clothing store of a certain renown, and look! It has cord handles! That one’s from a Canadian design institute with an intriguing logo! They all live in a happy commune in my overflowing cupboard, sniggering at how easily my misplaced sense of pseudo-cultural respect has overwhelmed me!

Until an hour ago, that is, when in a fit of barbaric fury I threw most of them away. And it was then that I found my prized collection of shiny pebbles that I’ve accumulated over the years, and were simply too pretty to walk past.