You know the day isn’t going to go well when it takes 3 weeks to come up with a date that works for everyone.  But, we found the day, and I had gotten as ready as possible, making sure everything was labelled and shut and there were detailed lists of what was to go where and when.  This time, we had three men and a van coming, there were the contents of the room that time forgot and some large items of furniture to be split between a storage garage, my flat, and my brother and sister’s homes.  I had spoken to the porters who assured me that it wouldn’t be a problem for the guys to get everything downstairs into the lobby and then bring the van round and load up.  At least that is what two of the porters I spoke to said.

“Yes, Miss, no problem.”

Then the head porter came to work in the morning and made the van driver cry.  For goodness’ sake, it’s 08:15 am.  I don’t need crying men in the house talking about how the head porter is a meanie-head.  Anyway, a coffee and several tissues later, and we are happily taking stuff downstairs and stacking it in the lobby.  I was amazed by how much stuff we got into that bedroom.  There was tonnes of it. And most of it so random, I can’t believe we are actually still in possession of it.  There were 6 radiators.  Six!  In a house that already has a tropical climate!  (Not to mention the two that are downstairs in the store room).  Plus three air conditioning units and about 12 fans.  I feel like we should put them all in the same room and make them fight to the death. There were  boxes and boxes of stuff that I’m not really sure we will ever need. I realised about halfway through that a lot of it was stuff that had originally been in D’s room and had somehow inexplicably (ahem) made its way into the spare room.  All stuff that will never be worn, touched or even looked at again, and certainly not by the owner but we kept it all, and I was planning on filling the spare room at the old flat.  I haven’t sold it yet, so for the moment, it seemed silly to pay for more storage rather than use an empty room.

Halfway through  gathering stuff to take downstairs, the guy says to me, I have to feed the meter in 10 minutes.

I refrained from saying, ‘why don’t you do it now, since you remembered.’ because this is precisely the kind of behaviour that has gotten me labelled as a bossy control freak.  As usual, every time I tamp down on my bossy and controlling tendencies, the thing I don’t suggest becomes the best flipping idea in the world.  Twenty or so minutes later, I hear the guy saying:

“Oh dear, I forgot, Oh no, shit!…”  and messing with his phone.

“Are you ok?  Did you add more time?”

“Yes, but only just now, I don’t know if it’s worth it because the van has been sitting there illegally for 10 minutes or so.  I am so annoyed with myself, I should have set an alarm,  If I have a ticket, I will have worked for free today…”

He looked about ready to burst into tears again, this guy’s eyes were seriously leaky.  I patted his arm awkwardly and told him that we could cross that bridge if it came to it, but since the van was legally parked now, we should get on with things.  I offered another beverage, but this time he felt able to carry on without one.  The incongruity of these soft-hearted tattooed burly guys always makes me smile.  I wondered if he took his shirt off would there be a tattoo of a fuzzy duckling and a fluffy bunny holding hands, or a big I love my Mummy in a heart to contrast with the angry (and frankly scary) looking scorpion on his forearm.  Obviously I will never know, this was a PG rated move and no shirt removing took place. Image

So we’re moving and shuttling stuff up and down in the lift, and then the time comes, and the guy goes to get the van.  The other two guys were hanging around with the stuff, and when the driver comes back with the van, the head porter comes out of his little office and starts being rude to everyone.  No amount of begging and pleading for 5 maybe 10 minutes was fruitful.  He was adamant.  The driver- let’s call him Leaky, in tears again, calls his boss.  The boss comes over and gives me a call

“Hi Maria, look we’re down here, I have come over to help the lads because your head porter should have a side parting and a little moustache. The other porters are lovely guys, but this head guy is a piece of work.”

It’s a videophone down to the porter and I noticed that the head porter he was referring to was right there.  Great, I thought, this will be pleasant next time I come downstairs to leave the building.  Images of launching myself out of the window and abseiling down to my car came to mind, but I dismissed them – he probably wouldn’t allow ropes out of the windows either.

Finally, they get the van loaded, and we get on the road to my flat. I went in my car, got there ahead of them, and busied myself making sure the room everything was going into was empty.  I also filled two boxes with wine (yes, it follows me around) and put them by the door for them to take to my car (what is the point of having strong guys around if they don’t do the heavy lifting for you, I ask).  We got to my block of flats, I opened the garage door and sighed.  It already looked pretty full.  I told them I wanted as much as possible in that garage because I feel that the other one is damp.  To their credit, they sorted/re-stacked, pushed and pulled, and got everything into the garage.  Still half a truck load to go up into the apartment.

“How close to the building can I get?” asked Leaky

“Where those barriers are.” I showed him, pointing to an obvious ‘come no further’ point.

“No, I reckon we can get closer than that.  Look I can manoeuvre the van around the tree and come up to the door.”

“I don’t think you’re supposed to.” I said nervously, “I think the barriers are probably there for a reason, and every other time we have moved the movers have stopped here.”

“Don’t worry,” he said, chipper, “ It will be fine, leave it to me.”

Within 5 minutes, they had drawn up to the building door and were busy unloading the stuff.    They had gotten about 2 boxes out when the porter arrived, breathless

“You can’t park here.  Why did you move the barriers?  There are manholes, and people’s bedroom windows, and no, you have to move…”

Leaky paused, “But we were just going to unload, 10 – maybe 15 minutes….”

“No, absolutely not, I cannot allow it, please move the van.”

I could see Leaky’s bottom lip start to tremble and his shoulders slumped a little.

“OK, “ he said  turning to the van dejectedly.

The porter wasn’t rude or anything and he was extremely apologetic, I understood completely.  I went over to Leaky.

“Don’t be upset, it’s only a few more metres, there are 3 of you and I can help…”  I was at a loss about how to cope with this extremely emotional guy.  I mean I know men are a lot of work, and they need constant reassurance and stroking (not like that, calm yourselves), but this guy was borderline hormonal.

“We have been so unlucky today and I think there is a puncture in the tyre.”

“Don’t worry, we’re still on track, it will all be fine, you’ll see, you’ll even get finished early today!”  I injected as much let’s-go-fly-a-kite enthusiasm into my voice as possible.  I picked up one of the boxes they had unloaded and got into the lift to go upstairs.  As the doors were closing, one of the other guys, an extremely young and skinny Indian guy (let’s call him Skinny) jammed his foot in the door to come up too.

“Doors opening, mind the doors”

We stood there close together.

“Doors closing, going up.”

Nothing happened

“Doors opening, mind the door”

“Doors closing, going up”

After about five repetitions of this, the tinny voice says:

“This lift is out of service.”

Thank goodness Leaky is still in the van I thought, I don’t think he would cope.

We started trundling along the corridor to the other lift.  I went upstairs first, opened the door to the flat and then waited for the others to come up.  About 15 minutes went by with nothing happening.  I couldn’t work out what was taking so long.  Finally, the third guy (let’s call him Cockney) came into the flat empty handed.

“Have you seen skinny?  We’ve lost him”

“How is that even possible? I told him 7th floor, he was waiting for the lift downstairs.”

“The lift nearest the van started working again, and then we saw a parking space outside that was closer, so we moved the van and then Skinny went into the building and now he must have gotten confused and we can’t find him.”

“OK, well, we told him the flat number, he can ask someone and he’ll get here soon.  Do you have anything to bring in?”

As I finished the sentence, Skinny showed up looking confused and sheepish.

“Sorry!” he said “I got confused, the lift doesn’t stop on the 7th floor and I got turned around a bit.”

He had obviously gotten in the wrong lift.  Disaster averted, wayward mover found, let’s get some boxes into this flat…

The stuff kept coming and coming and eventually there were boxes, paintings and suitcases filling the room floor to ceiling with a small pathway for identification and reaching purposes.  Job done.

Now all they had to do was take a few pieces of furniture to my sister K’s and then my brother’s place over the river.  I thanked them profusely, and sent them on their way, and mentioned that there were no more parking restrictions at either of the places they were going.  I gave them numbers to call in case they got lost, the addresses to put into their satnav and details of what specific items were to go to which location. The only thing I didn’t do was volunteer to drive the van there myself.

Needless to say, the farewell was emotional.  I got a hug from Leaky and I had to summon up a motivational speech to spur him on.  It wasn’t quite up to “We will fight them on the beaches” standards, but it seemed to do the trick, and short of playing him some uplifting marching music, it was all I had to offer.  I went back upstairs, locked up the flat and went home, hoping that the hardest part of my day was over.

And so it was.  Leaky, Cockney and Skinny got stuff delivered and put in place in good time with no more drama, thank goodness.  Later that day, I got a call from an unknown number.  It was Leaky.

“Hi Maria,  I just called to say that I forgot to ask you for the money for parking and my Boss was really upset with me, and I didn’t want to call and ask, and I feel that you were so kind, and…”

He couldn’t carry on.  I told him over the sounds of sniffling that I would leave the money downstairs with the porters and they could collect it any time they liked.

“Oh, thank you, I was so worried about calling…” I could hear Cockney in the background confirming this [he’s been driving me crazy Maria!] “ Thank you so much.  See you again and thank you.”

Phew, next time I call these guys I will get in tissues and anti-depressants as well as tea and biscuits.

On the plus side, the flat now looks amazing.  And huge!  It seems that the truckload of excess stuff really was taking up a lot of space (duh!).  The spare bedroom is now a spare bedroom with beds and bedside tables, and not a radiator or clothes rail or box in sight.  I am now – finally – in love with my new home.

Am I done?  Not yet, not even close really, but I feel like now I can put the bulk of the move behind me and just deal with the niggly little jobs left – procuring a mattress for the bed base, finding a way to get rid of two small TVs we no longer want, and trying to persuade D that just because it’s pretty, doesn’t mean it should live with us…

That’s it.  I’ve moved.  Maybe for the last time in at least two years….

After that, we’ll see.

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