A PERIODIC table found during a laboratory clear-out at the University of St Andrews is thought to be the oldest in the world. It had lain undisturbed since the late 19th century until it surfaced in 2014. Since then, experts have been running tests on the document and have now dated its origins as being between 1879 and 1886.

As well as the historic significance of this discovery among a pile of old chemistry equipment, the find represents an impressive disregard for tidying, and one which should be celebrated.

I will now no longer feel quite so bad about my inadequacies in the field of spring cleaning. We have a whole room, albeit a very small one, devoted to the gathering of objects which serve no purpose whatsoever … but that just might be useful at some point in the distant future.

In this Room Of Doom live elderly lampshades that are unlikely to ever again find a partner. But you never know. There are toddler’s shoes, the owner of which is now a size 12.

They will never again toddle, but the bearers of such memories cannot be discarded, surely? As for Paddington Bear in his fraying duffle coat and tatty sou’wester, date of birth circa 1974, how could we part with him? There must be a law against such cruelty to threadbare bears.

This room is also home to a stash of malt whisky. On the surface, this sounds good. But no-one is allowed to actually drink any of this coveted collection. Exception is made only for special occasions such as blue moons and the birth of unicorns.

Then there’s the loft, a treasure trove of unused wedding gifts that would put Miss Havisham to shame. We’re just keeping them good, you see; saving them for a special occasion. As for the children’s books, many of which came from charity shops, who would want them third hand? Better just hang on to them … It’s not that I don’t tidy up from time to time. It’s just that I seem to have spent 20 years moving the same pile of stuff from one room to another. It’s bound to come in handy, though.

And the hoarding doesn’t stop there. To complement the Room Of Doom and the Loft Of Doom, there is also the Kitchen Drawer Of Doom. This is the resting place of a plethora of Really Useful Things. There are chargers for phones that have not known life for a decade. There are phones that have not known life for a decade, but which don’t match any of the chargers. There are random batteries, which may or may not be duds. There are spent candles from special birthdays (admittedly, I know not which ones) and vintage menus for take-away establishments long closed down. There are also screws. Lots of them. And fuses for plugs blissfully unaware of their obsolescence. You never know, though … Of course, the Kitchen Drawer Of Doom should not be confused with the Desk Drawer Of Doom, home to paperwork dating back, possibly, to the Magna Carta. Here sleep pay slips from my first job (you never know when the taxman might come snooping), antique cheque books and envelopes sporting 18p stamps.

Dig deep and you might even find a periodic table dating back to 1878.