648 Moving experiences, part 8: July/ August 2014

7thJuly 2014. A little while ago I was talking to my neighbour, and we both were of the opinion that when you live alone you have to set up a routine for doing things, even if it’s fairly arbitrary, and stick to it. Otherwise life gets untidy; you forget to do some things; unappealing jobs are deliberately overlooked; other things get done in a hurried and superficial way because you haven’t left enough time for them; and things you really enjoy don’t get the time they deserve.

So it was no great surprise that a couple of days later I tore up the schedule and joined my neighbour in a big effort to tidy up the back garden. This was bad timing as I was also preparing for the family weekend in Letchworth; and because I couldn’t quite make myself ignore the schedule I was also trying to do a little housework (Wednesday) and library work (Thursday) as well.

As a result when Friday came I was in no fit shape for the family weekend, made my apologies, and spent most of the weekend sleeping. This did at least mean that I was back in circulation a day earlier than planned, and was able to get ready for the next interruption to the schedule, namely the Ely Folk Festival which, all being well, will carry me away tomorrow. After that it really will be business as usual for a couple of weeks. The big parcels (currently 24) will go off to the Esperanto Centre, the garden will get some finishing touches, I shall reduce the number of library days, and work on the “showroom” preparations will resume. I may even be at home long enough to get some oil delivered.

I can at least report that the bonfire went very well, without incident. I haven’t binned any audio cassettes but I have disposed of an unwanted mattress; and the Freesat recorder is down to 44%. Also I have many hours of Glastonbury recordings to listen to when time permits. And I’ve discovered a recording of a BBC 6Music radio show themed around house moves; that should be cheerful.

22nd July 2014. In the last couple of weeks there has been a significant development, though other than money I contributed nothing to it. This has been the resurfacing of the driveway; for the first time in a long time it is now possible to drive a car down to the back gate with no risk of damaging the suspension. In fact you could ride a bicycle down it without damaging your own personal suspension; you don’t always get that on public roads.

But I have been miles away from all that, at the Ely Folk Festival. This of course had no relevance to the house move, so much so that at first it felt like bunking off, as if I should really be at home getting on with work. This naturally didn’t last long as I got into the spirit of things. In fact, when I got home I found myself wishing I was back at Ely. One way or another, wherever I am I’m in the wrong place, at least until I get to Letchworth.

One song at Ely set me thinking, and I’ve probably mentioned it here before, when Steve Knightley sang Country life. If you still don’t know it it’s here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78Y7cBLJWgI> It’s a song about the decline of village life, loss of shops, pubs, schools and the like. For a moment it made me wonder if I too was deserting the sinking ship; but I soon realised that this made no sense. I am contributing nothing to the local economy; I don’t use the school, the church or the pub, I no longer have to pay a fare on the bus, I’m not involved in local societies or even the village fête, and all my money is spent elsewhere. I’ll be doing the village a favour by moving on, as the result will surely be a net increase in the population, which I’m sure would please Mr. Knightley.

I shall of course be leaving the village, temporarily, quite soon, with another visit to the Esperanto Centre. This will take most of my time for the next ten days. It will be a useful contribution to the house move, as the big parcels, frequently mentioned here and now numbering 26, will finally go off to Barlaston. The result will be a big clearance.

Following that it will be good to get a clear run at things for a while. Even despite these repeated absences, work is getting done. Binfuls of rubbish continue to go out every fortnight, I shall soon be able to discard ten more audio cassettes, and the Freesat recorder is down to 43%.

This report comes to you a couple of days late; the next one is due the day before I depart for Barlaston, so I’d better be on time with that.

1st August 2014. On the 20th of May I predicted a forthcoming Polyfilla Day, and on Tuesday 29th July it finally happened. But don’t get excited; no filler was used and no holes were filled. Instead I made further progress on the carpet trimming, first mentioned on 26th April, and reported on 20th May. I’ve still only trimmed about two thirds of the long west wall, but this has enabled me to put the sofa back in its usual position. It had been in the middle of the room, very much in the way, for a couple of months. Another Polyfilla Day, with associated trimming, will make it possible to put back one of the bucket seats next to the sofa, and if I break up the other bucket seat, which is currently obstructing the book shelves, the room will start to look fairly normal.

All of this seemed like nothing in comparison to the events of Wednesday 30th. In April I was chronicling the clearing of hundreds of Esperanto books from the hallway. Subsequently their place was taken by 32 large parcels waiting to go to the Esperanto Centre. On Wednesday a valiant Man with a Van came along and took away the whole lot. Now, finally, the hallway is clear of all obstructions. As I mentioned on 6th May, I can now move the items at the bottom of the stairs (about ten boxes, three suitcases and the blue trunk) into the snuggery, though further clearance in there will needed first.

And when I arrive in Barlaston tomorrow afternoon the parcels will be there to greet me. It will be another busy session but a productive one.

Back in June I was looking at local house prices and found that houses slightly like mine ranged in price from £235,000 to £325,000. Now I find that a house a few doors away from mine is on offer for about £150,000. This could be worrying, but I try to tell myself that although it’s a very pretty house and garden, both the house and the garden are a good deal smaller than mine.

On April 6th I spoke in terms of reducing the number of Library Days; I can now, only 4 months later, do this. The net result will be more time spent on the house; but, as this will increase the proportion of physical effort, I shall also slightly increase the days off. With the departure of so much library material, there will be less library work that I can do at home.

You may have noticed a large number of dates being quoted in this report. This is quite deliberate; the point of this is to show that when I say a thing is planned, it does eventually happen, even if you hear nothing about it for a couple of months. After the impending Esperanto Centre visit I should be at home for a couple of months and the results of my efforts will be more visible than they have been up to now. If that sentence isn’t entirely clear I could say that from now on I’ll have more job satisfaction and I’ll be able to see that I’m getting somewhere.

At the start of these activities, back in January, I certainly didn’t realise there was so much to do and that it would take so long. But all in all this is the pace of country life, and I hope to bring it with me to Letchworth.

16th August 2014. This report comes to you three days late and it may not be very long. Following my return from the Esperanto Centre I was both tired and busy, which is not a good combination.

In itself the Barlaston visit contributed nothing to the house move; but it was reassuring to arrive and find that the 32 parcels had come to no harm on the journey, and neither had I. Urged on by higher authority I managed to get all of the parcels out of sight. About 300 books went on their way, some to join their colleagues on the shelves but most to the office stock of duplicates available for purchase. In the course of the first few days I had the company of no less than six pleasant and interesting people, which is much more than usual, not to mention a brief visit by a minibus-load of people attending a nearby Esperanto course.

I’ve now been home a week and am getting back into the routine. As part of that, ten audio cassettes have gone in the bin and the Freesat recorder has shot down to 40%. More significantly, though it might not seem important, another suitcase has come down from upstairs. It contains the tent and associated bits and pieces; packing these sets me a kind of deadline as at least in theory it requires me to be in Letchworth on or before Thursday 9th July 2015, which as well as being my granddaughter’s fourth birthday is the day before next year’s Ely Folk Festival. This is moderately scary as up till now I haven’t had to set a precise date for any part of this work. It should be achievable, but I’ll make sure the suitcase stays where I can get at it.

Tomorrow will be another Polyfilla Day, and given that most of the possible distractions have been dealt with, it should be precisely that; though, weather permitting, I should also, at last, put the lawnmower on its lead and take it for a walk. Another of these days is due shortly before the next report.
The new work schedule is now in force; this will mean, in the next twelve days, three days off, the two Polyfilla Days just mentioned, three library days, two housework days, an office day and a music day.

29th August 2014. At this point I should be offering you some entirely serious thoughts about the psychological, almost psychiatric, effects of a house move. I had large parts of the text worked out in my head. In the event I am postponing this but the topic will certainly come up on a future occasion. For now there are some slightly more cheerful things to say.

It seems only yesterday that I was greeting the arrival of Spring. Now, although it is still August, we have had our first taste of autumn, with some cool days and cold nights. I hope it will be a very long autumn as I still have work to do outdoors. The change of season gives all the necessary work a new sense of urgency. During the winter months I usually go into something very close to hibernation, but this year I’ll have to keep going. If I stick to the plan of visiting the Estate Agent in late February or early March, that means I have about 180 days to get the house and garden presentable. So if you now fast-forward through the next 15 reports, you should see how I got on there. Unfortunately I cannot fast-forward myself; I have to take the slow motion route, and count the days ticking down. In the light of that I should perhaps tell you what I’ve been up to.

The most perplexing item was the Music Day. I couldn’t think what I could do that would advance the house move. But then I thought of the clavichord. Surely anything to do with that would be a Music Day activity.

The clavichord has been following me around for about 40 years. I was working in Rotterdam when I bought it, and subsequently I brought it back to Enfield, then to Palmers Green, then to Leyton, then back to Enfield, and finally here. By now it was in pretty poor condition; its legs were gone, quite a few strings were broken, and the case was damaged. Getting it back into playing condition would probably not cost much less than buying a new one; selling it in poor condition would be a lot of work for very little profit. So the only answer was to break it up, and that is what I started doing. There is still work to do, but the component parts already take up much less space and getting rid of them should not be an insurmountable problem. It’s a shame to lose it as it has a unique sound, and my electric keyboard does not have a clavichord function. As a result of this and other work, about three quarters of the Snuggery floor is now clear.

The piano will have to go next, but that will be a sale, my first venture into EBay, so that will be for another Music Day.

The two Polyfilla Days have been exactly as required. I have now done as much work as I can to the west wall of the lounge, and also finished trimming the carpet. The sofa and one of the bucket seats are back in their rightful positions, the other bucket seat is awaiting destruction, and the book shelves are fully accessible. This is major progress, and means I can now walk around the room unhindered, and can move on to the other walls. The north wall is home to the fireplace and the bookshelves, and no work is needed there. The east wall, nearest the road, needs some filler work, but I can’t tell how much until the piano and electric keyboard are out of the way. When the departure of the piano exposes the south wall, who knows what I shall find; it must be ten years since I saw the whole of the wall.

As I hoped, the lawnmower had a brief outing, but more than half of the lawn remains to be cut. More of the usual things have happened, with ten more audio cassettes cast out and the Freesat recorder now down to 38%.

The twelve days from today to the next report include 3 housework days, 3 days off, 4 library days, 1 office day and 1 Polyfilla-or-kitchen-or-whatever-else day.

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