The removal men are sizing me up for a box

  • @domjoly

I'm still moving house. I now can't remember when or why I started moving house. All I know is that everything, everywhere, must be moved. I was in the village pub last night for yet another farewell drink (on my own) and I automatically started piling chairs on tables and lugging them outside until the landlord asked me to stop. I have become a cubist. I live in a world of boxes, and often feel the need to open one of them and crawl inside, shut it and hope that everything is finished when I get out. It never is.

I half-heartedly wander around dust-sheet covered rooms thinking about what everything will look like when it's finished. I don't really care any more. If I had my way I would sell all my stuff in a minor-celebrity garage sale and then check into the Savoy until my money ran out and they kicked me out on to the streets and I could start living an hommage to Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, except mine would just be in London because I wouldn't have enough money to get to Paris.

Stacey notices I'm drifting away from reality in the new house and sends me off to unpack boxes. They all look the same; the only way I can tell what they contain is by the scrawled description the movers have put on them. I approach one marked: "Weird cartoon, lounge." It turns out to be my Banksy print from the sitting room.

In my latent snobbery I tried to get them to not write "toilet" and "lounge" on the boxes. I gave up when they looked at me with blank faces, suspecting they were secretly planning to put me in a box marked: "Wanker, big house."

There are men all over my new house – men who all come in white vans and have talents and skills that I don't possess. There are chippies and sparkies and plumbers (I don't know the slang for plumber) and they are all busy doing things that make me feel emasculated and useless. For this privilege, I pay them large amounts of money every three days, but never pluck up the courage to ask when this might all be over.

A plasterer has just come to finish off a couple of walls. He was an Albanian who had walked out of his country into Greece at the age of 13, to escape the troubles there. He ended up in my Cotswold valley living with 12 chickens and seven ducks. He was an incredibly gentle, nice man and I warmed to him until he started telling me how, before he walked all the way to Greece, he used to have to make a dam once a week to channel the river water into the mill so he could make the flour to feed his family. I felt emasculated again and I looked at my eight- and 12-year-old children and wondered if they realised what a charmed life they lead. Tomorrow, we move the animals over. They will not be happy. Like me they are creatures of habit, but at least I made the choice to move … or did I? It all seems so very long ago.