The Only 127 Things I Need

By Alison May 5, 2008 15 Comments 13 Min Read

So the house is on fire and you’ve got ermmm, twenty minutes (it’s a slow burning affair) to drag everything you really need in this life on to the front lawn. Or keeping your home depends on raising a silly amount of money so you’ve got to sell everything but the things your world rely’s on. Or heck, maybe you’ve just come over all minimalist and decided its all just gravy…
You’ve got to choose 127 things to keep. 127 things because this is the number Donna Wilkinson has declared constitutes life’s essentials, but not having yet read the book yet I’m not entirely certain that those things I consider essential would really keep anyone else’s boat afloat but here it is regardless: the 127 things I couldn’t live without…
Do feel free to come up with something slightly more worthy than big earrings…
1. Washing Up Liquid. Give me a bottle of it and I can clean the house from top to bottom.
2. A packet of the cheapest bourbon biscuits you can find in the supermarket. Posh ones just won’t do. They need to cost about 22p to really thrill me.
3. The hospital bracelet they attached to Finn’s wrist when they told me he was suffering from either cancer or cystic fibrosis. Always look on the bright side Dear Doctor…
4. The twinkly denim jacket perpetually tied around my waist. Big bum disguise with added sequins. Actually make that “everybody stare at my big bum please…”. But never mind, it makes me feel better…
5. An old pottery figurine of an old man who looks like my Grandad. It broke in half and I glued it back together in a gruesome fashion, but oh how I love it. So much so that it is hidden under my bed because it doesn’t quite fit my shabby chic aesthetic. Sorry Grandad.
6. An ancient copy of The Hobbit I read when I was seven. The day I fell in love with reading.
7. A cheese grater. For cheddar and marmite granary toasties.
8. A flannel because I’ve got a grubby son. I’m one of those Mothers who grabs her child in a head lock and scrubs. Could be worse Son, some mummies lick a tissue and wipe it all over your cherubic little face…
9. My ribbon tied bundle of 130 Gulf War love letters from a soldier called Dale. Bless our teenage hearts. We were so young. And they’d given him a gun. Terrible, terrible, terrible…
10. A gold paperweight engraved with Ali May, (thats me!!) from my sister Helen.
11. Snuggles. I mean I know I can’t pack them in a suitcase but I wanna take them with me regardless. Only the other day I squashed up to my poor Mum and forced her to hug me properly on pain of depriving me of essential human contact and thus causing me to shrivel up and die…
12. My trademark bangle sized gold hoop earrings. Because I’m a gypsy at heart.
13. My mobile phone. I kiss it sometimes because I’m thirty six going on eighteen and some conversations make me smile in a silly fashion. And it’s got an MP3 player. Though what that’s for I’ll probably never know…
14. Jellybeans from a jar. A whole new culinary obsession.
15. Ruby by The Kaiser Chiefs on cd. Because hearing Finley scream Ruby Ruby RUuuuuuuuuuuBY! on the way to nursery every morning makes me giggle. I love my son to bits.
16. Smudgy kohl eyeliner. I look a bugger without it. And some days I look a bugger with it too.
17. My Dad’s Wednesday night sweet delivery. A bag of Tangtastics and a quick chat. Lovely. (And yes Mum, I do know how very, very spoilt I am!)
18.  Emmerdale Farm. It’s a long term love affair. Not sure how I’m gonna get it in a trunk though.
19. The Victorian gold locket that was my eighteenth birthday present from my Mum and Dad.
20. My pink washing up bowl. People who wash the dishes in the sink make me wanna bash them up. Lordy, who made me Goddess of the pots and pans?
21. A George Forman grill. Because I’m lazy. And I like stripy food.
22. Finley. Because he is my bestest dream ever.
23. The slightly bashed up bust of a young girl that was the first thing I bought for the interiors shop I owned when I was twenty three. And then stole from myself.
24. Padded coat hangers. They strike me as gloriously luxurious.
25. A crumpled up newspaper cutting of a man I don’t know wearing a t-shirt that says “Living so large it hurts”. I’ve had it since I was fifteen and still to this day cannot understand it’s appeal. But I smile at him like he’s an old friend.
26. My yellow journal. From the days before the damned Internet got a stranglehold on my creativity.
27. My Ormskirk Shop Window Display of The Year Certificate circa 1995. Yey me! Awarded by the local Town Crier. Probably my finest, silliest hour. Complete with twig reindeer.
28. The Coeliac Society Food Directory. Our bible.
29. A long black halter neck dress that doesn’t particularly fit me but makes me feel so beautiful I occasionally wear it while I’m hoovering. With a dirty face and bed hair.
30.  My laptop. Obviously.
31. Johnson’s Baby oil. For glossy skin and slippy, lovely baths. Please don’t try this at home.
32. Balsamic Vinegar. For dousing pretty much everything. Even baked beans.
33.  My first business card. Proof that I was once a grown up. And have since regressed.
34. A photograph of Helen and I, sitting on the sofa giggling on my 21st Birthday.
35. Nurofen Max. Because I get headaches that come out of nowhere and fair old blind me occasionally. Once when I was driving. Almost into a wall.
36. My Noodle. A pink fuzzy duster I can strap to my hand. Goodness, that sounds a bit bonkers doesn’t it??
37. Paper and a propelling pencil. I’m a passionate doodler of tulips, over-sized sunflowers and ladies with big lips.
38. Erotica by Madonna. My getting ready to go out music of the moment.
39.  An exquisitely worn Irish linen rose sprinkled tea-towel. Lovely because it works. And it’s pretty. And it dries things! Wonders will never cease.
40.  A baby blue cotton romper suit my babba looked like an angel in when he was four mont
hs old.

41. Mother Pucker lip gloss. Because I’m addicted to the tingly chocolately loveliness of it.
42. Pineapple jelly in a rabbit shaped mould. With the trailer trash joy that is whipped cream sprayed from a tin. God I’m sooooo common.
43.  A little silver cheese knife I seem to spend my life hunting.
44. My red floral duvet. Womb-like, but with roses. Fairy scented bliss.
45. A huuuuuge tub of baking soda. Every home should have one.
46. Oil of Ulay/Olay. I never put it on my skin. But sometimes I sniff the pink plastic bottle because it reminds me of my Nana.
47. Finley’s first ringlet. Was it mean to chop it off while he was a-dreaming? It smells of baby. I wanted to bottle it.
48. A green milk glass with a fat little border of hearts. The only one left of four identical siblings. I couldn’t be more careless if I was doing it on purpose.
49. Soap and Glory Wrinkle Filler. Polyfilla for my face. Our little secret ok?
50. The biggest bottle of Tanqueray I can find. For emergencies of the heart. And the purse. And domestic disasters usually involving little rodents.
51. Rebecca. The novel and the film.
52. Richard.
53. The geranium on my kitchen window sill. Simply because I can’t believe it’s not dead yet. I’m irrationally proud.
54. My tumble drier. The day it dies is the day you will find me dangling off the satellite dish.
55. The framed sepia picture of two sisters in my laundry room.
56. The leather writing case my Nana bought me when I was twelve. Now stuffed with teenage ramblings and a postcard from George Michael aka my Auntie Barbie.
57. Finley’s rather fabulous picture of a chest of drawers with elephant. An inspired composition methinks.
58. A scanner. I’m mad for scanning things I am.
59. My flower sprinkled, chocolate covered, pencil written, sellotaped together, cutting filled home made recipe book.
60. My precious library card.
61. A handwritten note from the Poet Laureate Andrew Motion explaining why my poem was the National Prize Winner. Proof I can write when I put my mind to it.
62. A picture of me in the local paper, wearing a pretentious row of pearls on the day I won said prize. Awful. But funny. Which just about sum’s me up really… awful but funny.
63. The Steve McQueen postcard tucked into my Venetian glass mirror. When I want something I fight like hell for it. Because it’s true. And sometimes I don’t even know I’m fighting. No wonder I’m bloody exhausted.
64. Water. Out of the tap. Ice cold please. With a big chunk of lime.
65. A pretty plate and a spoon. A girl has got to eat.
66. A pink crocheted bib a BrocanteHome reader once sent me. For the little girl I’m going to have one day. Probably when medical science has invented geriatric maternity wards.
67. My grey blanket. For wrapping around my naked self after a cosy bath.
68. My great big Scouse pan. Stolen from my Mum.
69. Oh and a well seasoned wok. There you go: all cooking emergencies covered.
70. Foil. I do like a nice big roll of foil.
71. A tiny little brass bell. Because I like helping angels get their wings.
72. Salty Normandy butter and smoky streaky bacon. Not necessarily together.
73.  Finn’s Mummy Bears. Life would rapidly turn hellish without them.
74. My damask covered ribbon box. Rolls of ribbon secured with teeny pearly pins. Just for looking at. And licking occasionally.
75. My red heart shaped baking tin. For the best chocolate cake in the world.
76. The pile of yellow paper on which the first two chapters of my (rubbish) novel is scrawled in pen the colour of blood. Spill your guts Miss May. Spill your guts.
77. A letter from my friend Julie, starting with the immortal words, Dear JellyEgg…
78. The blue patchwork quilt under my bed, falling apart and smelling of  home and cuddles and our first flat.
79.  Tea. I’m pretty sure life wouldn’t be worth living without a good cup of Tetley’s tea. Made by my Dad please. With skimmed milk and one Canderel. Because I’m a heathen.
80. A big bundle of string. In case I happen across a vagabond who need’s securing till the police arrive. Or want to tie up my recycling.
81. The tiny bottle of champagne hiding at the back of the fridge. Because cause for celebration is always around the corner in my world…
82. The maroon velvet baby shoes tied up in olive green ribbon Mark bought me when we decided to have a baby. I don’t miss an ounce of him, but often ache for the family I thought we would be.
83.  Zona Home. The first interiors book I really treasured.
84. My Sex and the City DVD’s. Because I need more time to weigh up the merits of Mr Big versus the delectably loyal an oh so lovely Aiden. Because I’m a fool.
85.  A trolley token with Someone Special on it. Terribly useful are trolley tokens.
86. A pink staple gun. I feel weirdly efficient when I’m stapling things together.
87. Simple Abundance. Goes without saying. But it has shaped my life.
88. The birdcage in my bedroom window. Mostly so Finley will be able to carry on jailing Spiderman.
89. I’ll probably need a recipe book won’t I? So I’m choosing Apples For  Jam. Family friendly Mediterranean loveliness.
90. My calendar. All of a sudden I’m one of those women who doesn’t know there’s a bank holiday looming unless I check the wall twice a day.
91. A bag I can sling across my body postman style and forget about.
92. My box of stencil paints. For remembering who I used to be.
93. Colgate toothpaste. The only one that doesn’t put me off food for the rest of the day.
94. Tweezers. I pluck past myself.
95. The cupboard with the birds painted on it in Finn’s room. Because I was hot and eight and a half months pregnant when I painted it and it’s precious.
96. The heart shaped baskets on top of my wardrobe. Filled with paper memories.
97. Harvest Morn Chocolate Crunch cereal from Aldi of all places. I make a special trip and buy it in bulk. Milky cold yumminess for not so hungry suppers.
98. Red wine. Preferably a nice bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape. That I will refuse to share because it’s mine. All mine.
99. High heels. They hurt and they give me blisters but I feel shuffily and sloppy without them and I like being able to see over everybody else’s head.
100. Pure lavender oil. Life-saving loveliness.
101. The silver sequined top I bought last week. Because I feel like a sparkly butterfly in it. Every girl deserves to feel like a sparkly butterfly occasionally.
102. The occasional Sayers cheese and onion pasty. Because you can only get them in Liverpool. And when I’m not at home that is what I ache for.
103. The very silly glitzy ring I bought when I sold my engagement ring. My you’re gonna be just dandy ring…
104. The picture of Finley looking the spitting image of a frog in the few hours after he was born. A picture only a very besotted new Mummy could love.
105. The diary of my sixteenth Summer.
106.  A cucumber or twenty nine. Oh how I love you cucumber. Please love me back for always.
107. Egyptian cotton sheets. Warm and cool. How clever is that?
109. Spanx style knickers (never to be revealed in public). As recommended by Gok. Actually scrap the ugly knickers. I neeeeeeed Gok Wan. And I will have him.
110. The goose feather filled pillow I drag everywhere. Even into the receptions of swanky hotels.
111. Bread. Any but preferably the white french kind that gives me insufferable tummy ache half an hour later. Told you I was a fool.
112. Now this may be stretching the concept of need a bit too far, but in Cedar Farm the other day I saw an olive green costume ring I can’t live without. But I had forgotten my purse. Won’t be long till you are on my finger Sweetie…
113. My pink cardigan. For feeling sorry for myself nights and chilly willy mornings.
114. Salt. I shouldn’t but I do.
115. A fountain pen. Because it is the epitome of scrawly elegance.
116. Candles. Billions and trillions of them.
117. The book with the promise written inside.
118. My very ugly, very comfortable blue gardening shoes. For when I pretend to garden my postage stamp.
119. Good dark chocolate. Obviously. Oh and fruit creams. Or rose creams with tiny little crystallised rose petals on top.
120. The gorgeous pair of white flying rabbits hanging above Finn’s bed. Rabbits with wings…lovely.
121.  My dry skin body brush. Because I like feeling tingly.
122. Heinz baked beans with little sausages. For the little kid that lives in my tummy. She who wouldn’t say no to a Farleys rusk.
123. Daffodils. And sunflowers. And even carnations. Actually flowers full stop. What would be the point without flowers pray tell?
124. White bath towels.
125. BrocanteHome. And all those that sail in her.
126. Ermmmmm…. would it be terrible to say money? Just a little bit for random purchases of things I don’t need.
127. And finally my latest project… a  spanking new dateless three year diary with a pale pink ribbon to keep the bestest years of my life (those to come please) secret…
Expect to see everything else I own on Ebay very soon.


  1. Anita says:

    This is such a good post…
    After having lost almost everything that was dear to me when a tornado took not only my home, but 95% of my town of Greensburg, Kansas, I'm afraid I may not be able to find 127 things left that are important to me…

  2. Amy says:

    oooh is it ok if I do this one?

  3. Rosanne says:

    Wow, you actually listed 127 things, I'm impressed!

  4. Gayla says:

    Such interesting items… Umm…. did you put knickers on your list? It had to be asked, and I missed it if you did! hahahaha…. Who needs knickers anyway? Did you get something from me yet?

  5. Vee~A Haven for Vee says:

    Alison, I know behind this list and the humor is a lot of pain. I know because you and I are floating in parallel boats these days. I shall pray that you are moving on to much better things because there is a plan and it isn't living under the bridge. Blessings…

  6. mimi says:

    Oh snap, snap, snappity snap on several points…but especially 122! Lovely, scrumptious post!

  7. Katherine says:

    Great list–and so many things I value, but cannot put into words–thank you!

  8. Lorelei says:

    Alison you are my favourite read :0)This day is blah and you've perked me up..Thanks.

  9. julie says:

    you just make me smile…The lady across the pond that makes me smile~~thats on my list.

  10. Ouissi says:

    I might do this list!! If I can think of enough things 😉
    Thanks for making me laugh out loud…especially 102…
    Ouissi x

  11. Living in San Diego, California where Fire is the fifth season here we only get time to grab kids, pets, photo books and the insurance contact numbers! But I like your list.

  12. dianeinjapan says:

    I always love your lists, and this one, certainly ambitious, is no exception!

  13. lapa says:

    O caso da promiscuidade das entidades que têm sustentado a manutenção do stand sucateira ilegal também é um caso de polícia e de autoridades que terão que ser investigadas por outras.

  14. jademichele says:

    Love this 🙂

  15. maria smith says:

    That’s a very cute list! It’s always fun to see what’s important to everyone. I try to do regular deep cleaning and pretty much keep only things I love and use.

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