I do sometimes wonder what aspect of retirement I will write about in the next blog and then, wonder no longer, because out of the wide blue yonder comes an area of my life if not begging then politely asking to be written about. Hence this Wednesday along came the topic of this blog, I’ve called it retirement and moving house. Not us that were moving but my daughter and son-in-law. Though I say so myself, I’m an attractive proposition as ‘removal man’ goes. First, being retired, I have all the time in the world to help out and second, I have a van. It’s the gardening company’s van but I own it in the sense that I bought it. As I don’t get much use out of it I didn’t feel bad about requisitioning it for removal work. Indeed in the winter our other highly profitable business kicks in – Man with a Van (see our leaflet), so it’s not that the van doesn’t have history in the area.
I have to say, that from my daughter’s and husband’s point of view, they were pretty well organised. Yes, there was the odd moment of tension in the household as items were first thrown out by son-in-law and then retrieved by my daughter. How dare you throw out my DVDs, didn’t it occur to you that I might want them? No finer time for those slight temperamental differences between one partner and the other to emerge than at house-moving time. They say that moving house ranks as one of the most stressful times of peoples’ lives, that and divorce and when the two happen at the same time, well, it’s pure bliss. So when the person who attaches value to objects comes face to face with the let’s have a clean start person, things are bound to be a little fractious and so it was.
Eventually with a van containing about half of what we started out with, son-in-law and I set off for the tip. I have to admit that I personally reclaimed a few items. An angle grinder, one of those lights you hang from the rafters, a large number of screws (a man can never have too many screws), and a football, they don’t grow on trees you know. You never know when it might come in, is the key phrase here. Anyway we got to the Castleford tip and dumped what we had when a man asked for our permit. We gave him our Castleford permit. You can’t tip here this is a Castleford permit, he said. But this is Castleford, we replied. Yes but this is the wrong Castleford, he said. I thought about joining in the conversation but then thought, no, leave it to the son-in-law, these are his people, this is another country, they do things differently here. So where should we tip? Don’t know, mate but not here. But we already have, tipped here that is. You’d better leave it then. Good executive decision this since our stuff was already dumped in half a dozen different skips. Time to leave but unfortunately not ever to return as we are un/officially banned from Cas tip. The ignominy.
So I’d only been on duty an hour and already witnessed a minor domestic and a local council administrative crisis. Whatever next? The other people in the chain that’s what. As I’ve said ‘we’ were pretty well organised and everything was loaded into the first van and then we waited for three hours. I shan’t bother describing the ‘system’ for moving throughout the chain. It’s all to do with solicitors and estate agents and banks and money transfer and giving and collecting keys but most of all, from a waiting point of view, we can’t move our stuff into the next house (i.e. the next house ‘up’ the chain) until the people in that house, have moved their stuff out. And were they ready? They were not. After 3 hours, having been told by the estate agent that we could proceed, we drove to the house and there they were carrying out individual items (oh, that’s a nice toaster, don’t care for that picture and that must be a very special book) and loading them into small trailers and cars. We sat for an hour and watched them so I know this to be true. I don’t know which genius devised this ‘system’ and it must suit somebody probably removal companies who charge £50 an hour to have your stuff sat in their vans, but it certainly didn’t suit us. And this was a relatively small chain of 3 or 4 houses.
After what seemed like several weeks we had our stuff in the new house. Thank God for a third of a team of ex rugby league players to help, i.e. son-in-law’s ex team mates. Perhaps slightly over-enthusiastic at times. I did point out that the sofa was not going through the arch but they (3 of them) were keen that it should. It didn’t but I’m sure that the ‘modified’ arch can easily be repaired. One of them, after all, is a plasterer.
I have the same hopes, i.e. easily repaired, for my van that I drove into the gate post of the new house’s very narrow drive, removing several layers of paint. I don’t know what basic human emotion causes a person to keep going even when they know they are scraping their vehicle against an immovable object, embarrassment perhaps. I’ll just keep driving and nobody will notice. My in-law, I’ll call him Tony, did notice but was far too polite to mention it either at the time or later. It was only when I mentioned it to him that he replied, yes, I saw you do that. What a gent.
So there we are, a long day but job done and it’s a nice house and it only took 4 ex rugby league players, two more mature chaps, hundreds of thousands of £s, solicitors, estate agents, banks, vans, one slightly damaged archway, one somewhat more damaged van, several gallons of various cleaning fluids, a few bottles of lager and cider, a nice bottle of wine with an Indian takeaway and an extremely hot Madras curry ordered in error by yours truly. But what can you expect from an elderly person at the end of quite a taxing day in their retirement.