LOCK, STOCK AND BARREL
Ok, so THIS MAY BE a little bit of artistic licence but the next few weeks were so busy, that I didn’t think to take any pictures of my packing and getting ready to go. I thought you would happily make do with this photograph instead – as you can see, the lady here pictured and myself are practically twins!
Anyone who has moved home in the last few months will testify to the fact that it is an absolutely shattering experience. A house move is listed as one of the top five most stressful life events and mine was no exception. This particular move was the sixty-sixth move in my sixty five years of life and although I am used to the regime, the strain on my nervous system does not lessen. I knew I must dig deep and find the courage to pack once more, shrug off any possessions that were not entirely necessary and prepare for the big day. It is painful deciding which possessions to keep and which to throw, which items to give away and which to take with you, but a decision has to be made if you are moving on a shoe string and on this occasion, I knew I was moving to a smaller flat, so harsh choices had to be made.
I made a plan of the new flat as near to scale as I could and made cut-outs of my furniture, also to scale. I juggled the cut-outs around until I felt that the available space would be utilized to its best advantage and on this basis, I knew what furniture would have to go. My next job was to unpack every drawer and cupboard that was coming with me and repack each with items that I considered indispensable. This was incredibly difficult, it meant saying goodbye once more to items that I loved and it meant being ruthless. It may sound strange, they were, after all, only ‘things’ but I always find this shedding process very painful.
The next job was to offload a mountain of furniture, kitchen equipment (my new kitchen was tiny) and general household paraphernalia as quickly as possible. I made a large notice and asked the Manager of my Housing Complex if I could display it in the reception area. He kindly agreed that I could. I advertised all of the things that were to be given away and offered that people could view between the hours of ten and four o’clock for the following few days. The next morning at about 7.45 a.m., my door-bell rang. I was not even showered and was still in my pyjamas but I opened the door nevertheless. There began the most amazing of days and one day ran into the next. My flat was instantly turned into a noisy, colourful, street bazaar with people scooping up armloads of goods and squabbling over the biggest ‘prizes’. I had to stay alert and make sure my eyes stayed firmly on my most expensive possessions, as several things that were not on the list nearly vanished also, including, at one point, my television. Whole families arrived, not only the other residents of my housing complex but aunties, uncles, cousins and neighbours. Prospective viewers were still knocking on my door at 9.30 p.m. at night and continued to do so until everything was gone.
The final item to go was a large armchair which one of the ground-floor residents decided she would like. We asked the Manager if he would help us take the chair downstairs and he agreed. He collected a shopping trolley that was stored in the communal laundry and with a little help from myself and the elderly lady who was to be the beneficiary, loaded the chair upside down on the trolley. I had to muster every ounce of self-control that I possessed,in order not to allow myself to giggle, as whilst straining and heaving the hefty chair onto the trolley, the poor Manager burst all of his shirt buttons bar one, exposing a very hairy chest.
At last I could start packing properly. I allowed myself twenty packing boxes and packed them to the brim with kitchen and bathroom equipment, clothes and of course my beloved art equipment. I had to be ruthless once more and many things that I would have liked to take with me were sent down the rubbish shoot with a crash. Finally all that was to be done was to sign the release paperwork with Harrow Council and satisfy an Inspector that the flat was to be left in good and clean condition. The flat passed its inspection with flying colours and the Inspector was delighted, saying that he had rarely seen a flat left in such splendid shape.
Two days before I was due to move, the main electrical unit in my car failed. All the warning lights were flashing on the dashboard and the seatbelt alarm and open door alarm rang constantly. I called the R.A.C. to see if they could help, but alas, after running various diagnostic tests the Officer advised that there was nothing he could do. I contacted Fiat who calmly informed me that the electrical unit required would take two weeks to arrive. Alas, there was no alternative, I would just have to drive the one hundred and forty two miles in a car heavily laden with art equipment and other odds and ends, with lights flashing and bells ringing to its heart’s content!