Today was the day the real business started.  At 9am, two men arrived and started to pack up the stuff.  None of this floating around looking for the right size nik-nak to fit into that hexagonal hole in the box.  This was get-right-down-to-it-and-put-stuff-in-boxes packing. Or it would have been if they had started straight away.  We gathered in the kitchen and I explained what all the different piles were and where to put stuff for each different location (four and counting).  Then I started packing and they looked around for a while.  Browsed one could say.  I had asked for them to pack up breakables and paintings plus all the kitchen stuff.  

“Would you like us to pack up all the stuff you have lying around?”  We can put it ll into a box for you.  They suggested helpfully.

“Please just pack up the kitchen and the paintings for the moment,” I said equally helpful and friendly. What I was really thinking was if you feel bored and listless at the end of the day, you can do it then.  I will be packing stuff up while you guys are doing your thing so it may all be put or thrown away before you get a chance to create 10 ‘random-shit-we-found-lying-around-and-put-into-a-box-for-you’ boxes.

Packers love to put stuff that shouldn’t be together together.  Like experimental chefs, they tinker about with your stuff and create a mixture that makes no sense at all and you find yourself with a box that says Master bedroom and contains a fish knife, two pillows, bathroom scales, a statue of a woman lying on her front with flowers on her buttocks, three jars of buttons and a selection of gardening tools.   All in your Master bedroom.  Where you didn’t need it. Or want it. And that probably isn’t the weirdest combination you’ll find before the unpacking is done.  Today I was firm.  I’ll decide what goes and what stays, what to throw and what to keep.  You do the kitchen and the paintings.  (D told me I was being unnecessarily bossy, but these people are like dogs and kids: they can smell fear and are not afraid to use it to their full advantage.)

So back to the paintings.  I had already taken most of them down, and they started wrapping them.  About 10 minutes in they came and said that they had the wrong kind of cardboard.  What they actually implied was that I had the wrong kind of paintings, but they said that Chris would go and get some cardboard from somewhere nearby.  Off Chris went leaving me with Peter who started to wrap up china and glass.  He put the radio on and within 1 hour I had a stonking headache as he listened to LBC talk radio where they discussed such riveting topics as why don’t aeroplanes seem to disturb the clouds (no seriously).  All this at a volume which was audible in a neighbouring country and in the room connected to where I was alternately packing and working.  Needless to say when he broke for lunch two hours later, I put the radio into a box and sealed it with far too much tape, marking it DEPTHS OF HELL.

Off they went to lunch, leaving everything exactly as it stood.  Unfortunately I had forgotten that there was to be a viewing at lunchtime.  The doorbell rings, and it is the estate agents.  Two of them, and would I mind if they waited inside as it’s rather cold outside.  I had warned the landlord that we would be packing, but he said it wasn’t a problem.  The prospective buyers were not showing up.  The doorbell rings again and it is two movers (not Chris and Peter).  They had come because Peter and Chris couldn’t move the fridge and the TVs that needed to go outside for the council to collect tomorrow. (Apparently, they pack and others move).  So now there are 6 people in the front hall. I’ve got to say, it felt a bit like the elevator all over again.  I looked around for a sign that said this hallway can accommodate 4 people or 5000kgs).  Anyway, the movers went upstairs and came down with the tellies and took them outside.  Then it was time for the fridge.

The fridge is huge.  It was tall and wide, one of those old-fashioned American fridges that fit tonnes of stuff and then a few tonnes more.  I mean old-fashioned literally.  It wasn’t a new fridge kitted out to look retro,  it was a circa 1985 american refrigerator.  It was time to kiss it goodbye a fact which pained D and the rest of the family tremendously. Burly Movers 1 & 2 came up to it and looked at it from a few angles.  We need to clear a path they said.  So we moved all the furniture and boxes in the path from the fridge to the door.  Just as we had completely blocked off the front room and stairs, the buyers arrived.  Great timing I thought and they are only half an hour late.  They climbed over two suitcases and a basket of shoes and started with the upstairs.  The men started moving the fridge.  

“It’s too big.  It won’t fit out the door.” Burly Mover No 1 says to me.

“We did not build the house around the fridge, ” I replied, “it came in, so it must fit to go out.”

Well they huffed and puffed and cursed and scratched the wooden floor (deposit is draining away as we speak) and they got it through the dining room into the front hallway and to the bottom of the stairs…

“That’s going upstairs where you got the TVs from”  says Chris to Burly Mover No 2.  There was a pause.  I should have kept it going, I know, but the buyers were waiting on the stairs to come and see the ground floor and I just got the giggles so badly, I couldn’t help myself.  Burly Movers 1 & 2 ran the gamut of emotions from shocked to horrified to relieved to vengeful and eventually got the fridge outside accompanied by much cursing and grunting.

The buyer lady had one of those expressions that I like to call a ‘I-am-so-much-better-than-all-of-you-and-if-I-was-moving-I would-not-be-making-such-a-pig’s-ear-of-it’ face.  My hackles rose.  

“Are you the tenant? She asked me fake-smiling with pity in her eyes. I replied that I was.

 “You still have a lot to do” she smirked.

Ujjayi breathing.  Channel Darth Vader.  Ignore the red mist.  Smile and let her leave. Do not put her in a box.  Leave it, it ain’t worth it.

Some time later, I came to and resumed packing.  All in all, a productive day I feel.  The house is now full to the rafters with boxes, the fridge and TVs are outside, D has reduced the number of sewing boxes coming with us from 3 to 1 (Although I suspect that she put the smaller one into the bigger one and we are actually taking two). Got lots done today.

But if I ever see that lady again….