I'm cutting into one of the boxes like I'm performing surgery.
I've sliced in topways. A space like a wound slowly opens up, with flashes of old newspaper showing. My hands are slow and steady with the knife. It's surprisingly tough going. I take a breather, glance around the dimly lit loft in that 'making-sure-that-prickling-at-the-back-of-your-neck-is-only-paranoia' way, wipe my forehead sweat on my arm, then get back to it.
I finally make enough of a cut and pull back a thick rectangular flap of packaging tape and cardboard. Newspapers, lots of them dating back to the 1960s, are wrapped around tightly packed lumps of different sizes. Some have that look of hastily wrapped presents that can't really be disguised by a thin covering of paper.
I push my hands in and shift the lumps around carefully, gently, like they might suddenly spring awake or activate somehow. I start counting them, silently, wordlessly tallying how many separate things are in there. A numbers mantra. The sound of newspaper crumpling; the gentle clink of metal and ceramic. I catch hold of a piece of loose paper and pull it out. It's old and yellowing at the edges. It looks like it's been torn out of a journal or an unlined notebook. I flip it over. It's got a single hand-written sentence on it in black biro, about six lines down. I hold it up to the light and squint.