I am fortunate to have several well-meaning and generous friends who have offered to help me in my endeavours.  I have for the most part refused, although I have not ruled out the possibility of asking them to help with heavy lifting later on. For the moment however,  most of the offers of help have been welcome, very much appreciated but refused.  

There are several reasons for this.  Firstly, my control issues are legendary, as anyone who knows me will confirm.  I find it difficult to ask for help, or indeed accept it once it is offered.  I have to often literally clamp my teeth together or sit on my hands to avoid micromanagement which I understand is annoying, after all it annoys me, but I can’t seem to help myself.  The second reason (and this I discovered after having a very close and absolutely wonderful friend come over to help at the weekend) is that when you see all of your stuff through their eyes, it makes you feel – well a little bit worse about the sheer volume of it. We discovered photos of me that should have been destroyed years ago (and certainly have been now) and had a good laugh.  (he laughed, I cringed).  But it was seeing him lug all the rubbish out of these cupboards behind the sofa that was just awful.  It’s different when you are doing it.  You have that exasperated affection face on, you’re having a mutter but generally, you sort through stuff and then move on.  This time however, I felt myself trying to justify their existence (for which there is no justification really) which took a lot of energy and left me feeling exposed and a bit depressed. Also, it is difficult to have people over to help when the work that needs doing is stuff that you have to do.  It isn’t like I can say – here’s the kitchen, pack everything.  It’s not like that.  As with all moves where items are going to multiple locations, it is important to have a system, and know what is in which box etc etc.  (Am I boring you yet?  I am boring myself, sorry) Also, since I am trying not to store what is essentially trash, I have to be careful of what goes where.  Anyway, we did sort through this stuff together, and I made a huge pile for the charity shop which is now considerably smaller since D decided that she couldn’t live without (among other things)  the books about Paris and Provence Interiors, which I don’t really know why we had in the first place and were still in their original plastic wrapping.  Then later that day, someone came round with my sister K and looked around and said:   “I thought you were moving in three weeks?  You haven’t even started!” (Cue further depression and misery, thank goodness Sunday night is Hawaii Five-0 night)

I have no qualms however about asking for help when I know that I am unable to do things myself.  When I moved into this house, I asked some friends to come over so that we could open some of the wines that had moved with us and to get some help hanging some paintings.  The deal was that I would prepare dinner, and they would hang paintings and taste wine.  At first it was all going well.  I had all the equipment they needed and we went about hanging 5 small paintings on the same wall pretty quickly.  Then we decided to hang a particularly large painting over the dining room sideboard.  The house has very high ceilings (I’m going to miss them) and a picture rail.  I was pleased about this as it meant I would not be having to repair holes when I left.  So the painting is about 3mx2m, it’s stretched canvas over a frame, not too heavy, but obviously quite large.  I had 5 or 6 couples over, and in true Greek fashion, the girls were sitting around drinking wine and eating nibbles and the guys were in the dining room discussing how best to put this painting up.  I should say at this point that at least four of the guys are engineers, a fact which was pointed out several times by each one of them.  Different theories were proposed and rejected and measurements were taken. The question of two hooks or three was debated furiously with the men equally divided between the two. The hanging wire was measured and remeasured, and arguments were had about its length and strength. Notes with diagrams and calculations started appearing.  About 2 hours went by.  At this point, the women stopped talking among themselves and settled in to watch their husbands/friends trying to sort out this challenge.  It felt like one of those weird game shows where you get a group of friends to perform a task for treats.   Finally, the wire was on the painting and the hooks were in place, with C on the sideboard in his socks and everyone else holding the painting up.  This was much harder than it originally appeared.  Because of the size of the painting, there wasn’t much space between the top of the painting and the picture rail.  It was therefore hard to get the wire onto the hooks.  We girls looked on in breathless anticipation (and lots of hysterical laughter) as the boys struggled to hold up the painting and C tried to get the wire onto the hooks (two, in case you were wondering).  There was a lot of ‘left a bit’, ‘back a bit’, ‘wait whose left’, ‘towards me or you’ etc.  The situation was getting funnier and funnier.  Finally, there was a grunt from C – “got it”.  The men let go and stepped back to admire their handiwork.  And there it was – a lovely painting hanging exactly where it was supposed to be – with a man trapped behind it.  Needless to say, he stayed there a while until we were able to get it together enough to help him out.

I would not have it any other way.  They have volunteered to help me hang paintings at the new place, and I have booked my ‘team’ of boys.  We had a laugh, and a lovely dinner afterwards, and it didn’t matter at all that in 5 hours, we hung 6 paintings. of which the first five were hung within 45 mins.  We all still talk about that night with great fondness and all of the guys puff up a little when they see the painting hanging.

So now we know the answer to the age old question about how many engineers, lawyers and scientists it takes to hang a painting.