648 Moving experiences, part 13: May/June 2015

11th May 2015. Parliamentary elections, currently scheduled to happen every five years, are a significant moment for the nation, but might not seem relevant to the house move. Wrong!

On this occasion I chose to vote by post. The reason was simple: from my house to the post box is one third of the distance from the house to the polling station. More to the point, the distance to the place where the bus stops is roughly twice the distance to the post box. So if I managed to get to the post box and back again, that is equivalent to a one-way walk to the bus stop, which means I can also get the bus to the railway station in Stowmarket or Diss, and from there travel on to Letchworth for the pursuance of house-hunting. So these elections do serve a purpose even if you never get the candidate you voted for.

More directly connected to the house move was a visit from the Estate Agent serving to set up an Energy Efficiency assessment, as required by law; the assessment will happen next Monday (18th). Another visit, by Esperanto colleagues, had no house-move relevance that I can think of, but it was far more entertaining and enjoyable than the others. And finally next weekend my daughters will pay a further visit. All in all, in the 16 months since the house move was decided, I’ve probably had more visitors than in the 16 years that preceded.

When my daughters arrive I hope they’ll find the house cleaner and tidier than last time; it will certainly be less cluttered. In fact as time goes on it seems, despite the many visitors, more like the Marie Céleste.

Since the six parcels went off to the Esperanto Centre I have filled three more and a fourth is in progress. The people at Barlaston seem a little puzzled as to what to do with them all; perhaps they should send for me. Of course I’m not sending things up there as the only way to get them out of the house; this is confirmed by the large amount of surplus periodicals waiting in the kitchen to go for recycling. Everything that goes there has had everything that I can do here done, and almost all of it is ready to put away.

Other house move preparations have consisted mainly of bits and pieces. I’ve packed some more of my own books; also a couple more boxes of saleable Esperanto Library items; and some more kitchen cupboard items. I’m making good progress towards clearing all Esperanto books out of bedrooms 1 and 2. And 60 more audio cassettes have gone in the bin; before too long I may be able to work out how many remain.

The next couple of weeks will include no fewer than 5 housework days, which will be a bit of an effort, three days off, two each of Library, Showroom and Office, and a Music Day.

26th May 2015. Even if nothing decisive has happened in the last couple of weeks I can offer you some record-breaking statistics. I’m not talking about the 80 audio cassettes which will go in the bin tomorrow. Nor about the 16 people who for some reason viewed this site on May 16th. No; it’s the fairly short period, probably no more than half an hour, also on Saturday 16th May, when there were eight people in the house, apparently one more than ever before. These were myself, my two daughters, the Estate Agent, two other adults, and two children. The “other adults” and the two children were of course looking at the house. We also took the opportunity to discuss tactics with the Agent. Then this afternoon a young couple and their baby son took a look and, it seemed to me, liked what they saw, though young Wilfred kept his thoughts to himself. And tomorrow afternoon yet more people will be coming. If I remember correctly, this will make a total of five visits so far. It’s a very nice house; surely somebody will like it. Anyone else thinking of looking at the house may like to know that, even with eight people in it, it didn’t seem at all crowded.

Meanwhile the routine work continues. I could just repeat what I said two weeks ago, as sorting through Esperanto Library material and sending it on its way is probably three quarters of what I’m doing. There are now so many surplus periodicals awaiting recycling that I’m not sure where to put them all. I have five parcels ready for the Esperanto Centre, and a sixth is in progress. When this is done all six can depart; and a further batch of six should take me to the end of what I can do before the house move. If the move doesn’t happen soon there is a serious possibility that I’ll run out of work to do and have to entertain myself in some other way. This will be a new challenge that I haven’t had to face before.

As a contribution to bringing this challenge nearer, the next two weeks will include five housework days, three each of Library, Showroom and Day off, and two office days.

12th June 2015. Something very interesting will happen sometime soon; but it isn’t happening right now. Somebody looked at the house yesterday (Thursday) but wasn’t very interested, and somebody else, another local resident, will look at it tomorrow (Saturday). It may well be that all sorts of positive things are happening behind the scenes, but if they are I don’t know about them. In preparation for all this I spent Wednesday cleaning and tidying the house, never a bad thing, and my neighbour, without being asked, cut the grass in the back garden for the third time. I did manage to do the front garden myself and felt quite pleased with myself as a result. Apart from that, these activities have settled into a routine, just a regular part of everyday life.
Not at all regular or everyday is the prospect of a visit to the Esperanto Centre. This is by no means sure to happen, but if it does it will be an opportunity to finish there some of the work I’ve started here. We shall see.
Meanwhile the house clearance goes on. I’ve been working on Bedroom 4, which has only ever been the junk room. After my latest efforts it now contains 3 boxes of Esperanto magazines, some very big cardboard boxes, a tray of angle brackets, and some bits of carpet. The next visit should clear these. In the kitchen the first run-through of the cupboards continues. I’ve checked the top cupboards and the drawers, and the bottom cupboards – mostly pots and pans – will follow. Then it will be the under-sink cupboard, and after that I’ll go back to the beginning.
In the Library department, I’ve been concentrating on sorting the collection of incomplete (Bedroom 4) or duplicate (Snuggery) periodicals. Hundreds of duplicate copies have gone for recycling; it seems a pity, but no-one will ever want them. The incomplete ones have been packed for the Esperanto Centre and make up about half the contents of the six parcels now waiting in the hallway.
In the interests of clearing the audio cassette collection (both Library and my own) I’ve finally lost patience with the worn-out radio/cassette player that I bought second-hand in Ipswich fifteen years ago and replaced it with a stand-alone cassette player just like the one I had 30 years ago. I didn’t know you could still get them; it seems to be a big improvement. Partly as a result of this 70 more cassettes have gone in the bin. About 60 of the Esperanto sound archive cassettes remain to be copied; I stand a good chance of finishing these before the house move. My own collection will take a good deal longer.
As this report is a day late, I’ll include today in the count of the next two weeks, which will consist of 4 housework days, three Office, three days off (though one of these is tomorrow’s Visit Day), two each of Showroom and Library, and a Music Day. And speaking of music, the next report is due on the first day of Glastonbury Festival, when I am usually in a world of my own for the whole weekend; so don’t hold your breath.

26th June 2015. Food waste – that is, the wasting of food – is a significant problem in 21st century Britain. As you look around the supermarket, there is so much to choose from at such moderate prices that it seems only sensible to stack up the trolley, pile it up in the back of the car, then squeeze it into the fridge and freezer at home. Then a couple of weeks later, when it’s time to go back to the supermarket, you need to make some space in the fridge and the freezer, so you throw some of the old stuff away. There’s a kind of disconnect, or disassociation, between the joy of shopping and the reality of feeding yourself at home. They happen in different places, so they’re in different worlds.
The same goes for entertainment. There are dozens of TV channels, hundreds of radio stations, so much so that the published listings only have room for titles, without much more information, and although you really don’t know what you’re getting, you record or download loads of stuff under the illusion that you’re somehow benefiting from all this abundance; and surely some of it must be worth having. Then a year or so later you need to make some space on your recorder, or laptop, or phone, and you delete most of the recordings and downloads.
And so we come to the Festival season, specifically Glastonbury, which starts in a few hours’ time. I’ve never been there, and probably never will be. I don’t regret this at all, as, just like the supermarket shopping, I’d probably spend more time working out who to see, getting there, and getting my breath back afterwards, than actually seeing and hearing the acts. Even if I did this very efficiently, there are so many acts on so many stages that, as with the TV schedules, the programme can’t do much more than list names which mean nothing unless you already know the act. You can of course take pot luck, wander randomly around, and chance to hear some wonderful things. Even so I’d rather be at Ely Folk Festival where there are two marquees and occasionally someone busking in the car park. This is much more manageable.
So what do I do about Glastonbury? I take the TV and radio option outlined above. Today I’ll be recording about eleven hours of stuff off the radio, with similar amounts for the rest of the weekend. I’ll leave out television coverage completely; the listing looks more like a history lesson. Then over the next few months I’ll work through what I’ve got, though, like the supermarket food, some of it may go stale and have to be thrown away, if only to make room for some other recording.

۞

When the house move is over the thoughts above will probably be expanded into a page of their own in some other location; but just now it’s time to get back to the move itself, which comes in three parts.
The first part is my own endeavours at home. I have cleared almost as much as I can upstairs; selecting, weeding and packing of the secondhand Esperanto books has reached the letter P, so there’s not far to go. Likewise downstairs similar work on periodicals is at the same letter. Large amounts of unwanted items await recycling; this will take a while as it’s heavy stuff and there’s only so much that I can drag to the front gate in one go.
Some shelves on the half-landing (i.e. halfway up the stairs) have always been the long-term home of the cassettes, CDs, DVDs, and a few 7″ records. All the Esperanto cassettes are now gone from there; about 40 are in the short-term queue in the lounge, and when they are gone that will be that. There will still of course be the editing, backing up on CD, and uploading to a website to be done, not to mention cataloguing the back-up CDs and any cassettes that are kept. After that it will be the turn of my own cassette collection, most of which has already been copied or replaced. 80 more cassettes have gone in the bin, and the six parcels mentioned last time have gone on their way.
The second part is the house sale. Quite a few people have looked at the house now and two of them have made offers. The more recent one was lower than the first, but seemed likely to complete more quickly. In fact I’ve gone for the earlier offer; it’s more money, which is nice, and more to the point the people still have to sell their house, which gives me more time to look for one for myself. I can’t say the house is as good as sold, as any deal can fall through, but this looks promising.
It’s a sign of the times that I’ve received a letter from a different firm of Estate Agents suggesting I try their service, as the house has been up for sale for a while. This brings me to the third point, evidenced by that letter, that at present the demand for houses far outstrips the supply. But for that, no-one would be surprised at a large house in a small village being on the market for just two months.
There are not large numbers of bungalows in Letchworth – or anywhere else for that matter – and the ones that are there are mostly in the expensive part of town; so it was reassuring to find something much more affordable on the outskirts. On closer inspection this turns out to be a kind of internment camp, very comfortable no doubt, for independent living by fairly old people. Because of the high demand and the moderate prices they can pick and choose who they sell to, and the process involves an affidavit from a doctor and a personal interrogation, to assure them that people are going there of their own free will and are reasonably able to look after themselves. You would think that anyone of sound mind with middling good health would go for one of the many ordinary houses in the heart of the town; so somehow I would need to be infirm enough to need to live there yet well enough to look after myself. This is, as the saying goes, a tough ask. Added to which they don’t seem very easy to contact and deal with.
Very recently my daughter has noticed a similar property at a similar moderate price being offered by someone else, and much nearer to the town centre. We shall see what comes of this.

۞

I’ve been writing this, on and off, all afternoon and in the meantime the first slice, or tranche, if you must, of Glastonbury (3½ hours) has completed and is now on my computer. This is just as well, as for some reason a very silly Christmas song keeps running through my head, and a dose of Glastonbury should drive it away.
This will be followed, from here till the next report, by five housework days, three days off, two each of Library, Showroom and Office, and a Music Day. By that time some snippets of the Ely Festival may well be on YouTube; it isn’t all work.

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