Is there a helpline you can call if you’ve been adversely affected by Tidying Up With Marie Kondo? For those of you who are a blissfully unaware, Marie Kondo is the self-appointed Japanese queen of home organisation, a manic pixie dream tidier and writer of bestselling books The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying and Spark Joy.
Since my husband got them out of the library last year, he has been organising his sock drawer with the kind of forensic gusto hitherto only seen at dress rehearsals for military parades.
Naturally, she is against everything I stand for and I want to bury her under a pile of pizza boxes. But my God, she’s persuasive. And as we all live in a burning trash heap of chaos, it was only a matter of time before Kondo got her own TV show.
In her new Netflix series, Marie brings her translator, a winning smile and her exacting methods to sort out the bloated excesses of American families. Most of them live in houses with six bedrooms, a rumpus room (me neither) and a yard the size of your average Tesco superstore. They are drowning in stuff, and let’s say for the purposes of the show that this is the reason they’re unhappy.
In walks Marie, beaming and skipping around like she’s in a meadow full of unicorns and lollipops. Children melt when they see her, and bristling macho guys dutifully start tidying the garage. Cue emotional journeys and lots of bin bags.
Kondo’s baffling faux-Zen bollocks straight from a Pokémon cartoon includes greeting the house and saying thank you to old trousers
In theory, Kondo’s patented KonMari principle of tidying into categories of clothing, books, paper and miscellaneous seems beautifully straightforward and charming. It’s the domestic equivalent of clean eating. Once you were a reprehensible slob, now you kneel at a low table and sip tea from a simple cup. There is a plant. You no longer own 250 Tupperware boxes and a jam jar full of pennies and six duvets with weird brown stains on them. Life is simple!
But like all gurus and dictators, she’s peddling an unattainable fantasy for her own gain. Kondo uses a combination of hard-headed decluttering and baffling faux-Zen bollocks straight from a Pokémon cartoon – including greeting the house, saying thank you to old trousers, claiming that putting socks into balls is an act of cruelty and advocating ripping your favourite pages out of books before throwing them away. She is completely and utterly mad.
However, it’s easy to be brainwashed, especially at this time of year, when you’re picking bits of tinsel out of the carpet and wondering where everything went wrong. Since watching it, I’ve been secretly tidying things. She’ll do that to you. You know when you’ve been Kondo-ed. Maybe I should phone the police before everyone is affected? In the meantime, stay calm – and stay the hell away from your sock drawer.
My personal interpretation of the KonMari Method
(AKA The Road to Despair)
Dump all your clothes on the bed. Despair at your complicity with late capitalism and the ultimate destruction of the planet. But also, OMG, you totally forgot you had that cute sweater!
Go through the pile and touch each item to see if it sparks joy. If it’s a pair of kecks from Asda with a hole in the crotch, thank them for their service and respectfully say goodbye (while holding them aloft with tongs).
Fold everything into annoying little passive aggressive squares and stack them upright to give you the illusion that you are in control during your fragile and ultimately futile existence on a burning rock hurtling through space.
Next, deal with your komono; miscellaneous items from the kitchen, bathroom and garage. Kondo advocates buying a shedload of small boxes and putting them inside drawers so that you can see at a glance how many obsolete iPhone chargers you have.
Chuck out your books with the cold-bloodedness of a shark.
Finally, deal with your sentimental items. Tear yourself apart trying to work out what to keep, reliving every painful, joyful and bittersweet moment of your life while you cry inconsolably in a cupboard wondering what could have been. And that’s pretty much it! Arigato!
Tidying Up With Marie Kondo is on Netflix