“Are you all right?” says the man who used to live here (and maybe still does).
What am I expected to say? That all is brand spanking marvellous? That all is tickety-boo?
But let’s not get bogged down in the detail. The long and the short of it is that I go away, and when I return, in the dark, with The Other One, the house is devoid of fish, cats and dogs as well as, it seems, all the furniture. We do notice, however, that the shed is still chock-a-bloc.
First night in the house on an air mattress, but isn’t it good to be here? And in the morning, the sea is still staring up at us from its glassy pond. My flu has taken over, however, and I can’t wait for the removal van to arrive to bring me a futon to lie down upon, or at the very least, a chair. True to their word, the van pulls up outside the house late morning. But who’s this? Doesn’t the removal man grinning outside the front gate look remarkably like the vendor of the property? Am I having some fever-induced nightmare?
Of course, as ever, things are not as they seem. The vendor is indeed standing in front of me, because his car is hidden by the van. The removal men are also standing behind the front gate, grinning. Just for a moment it seems incredibly hard to work out who is who. After all, they’re all tall and wiry, with cropped hair and tattoos and varying amounts of face furniture. Although, actually, face furniture isn’t exactly on my list of priorities at the moment. All I need is a chair to sit down on – out of that van!
“Can we unload the shed?” asks the vendor.
“You’ll have to come back,” we bark. “You’ll get in the way of the removal men.”
Diplomacy is in danger of breaking down here, but our wonderful removal man is vying for a position with the United Nations.
“How long’s it going to take, mate?”
The vendor stands back, folds his arms and studies the sky.
“Urrr, ‘bout an’ hour an ‘alf.”
“An hour and a half?” repeats the removal man, astounded. He nods towards the contents of the shed. “You’ll do that in twenty minutes.”
And obedient as a freshly trained puppy, off the chap goes. And clears the shed. No mean feat. It’s stuffed from top to bottom with an amazing amount of what the inexperienced eye might imagine is junk.
Our furniture is unloaded and the men drive off. Job done. We’ve officially moved in. And at last I can roll out a futon, cover myself in a duvet and lie down to recover.