Ah. Let me grow nostalgic and misty-eyed a moment. Completion date. The moment when all the stress and the verbal acrobatics between estate agents, surveyors and solicitors comes to an end, and the pleased (dare I say it, smug?) estate agent hands you the keys to your wonderful new home.
“Happy New Home,” she says, handing over the white envelope with my name in capital letters on the front.
“Great!” I think.
After all, I am dying of flu, and it’s all I’ve been able to do to pack up from my temporary accommodation and load up the car, safe in the knowledge that The Other One has everything under control at the Lincoln end, complete with removal men. Sensibly, said removal men are planning the journey north the next day, so all The Other One has to do is hand in the keys that end and hop on a train.
Or, at least, that’s the theory.
Grasping new key in my sweaty mitt, I drive through the back of beyond and land in the sticks…at our new home with the estate agent’s congratulatory song still in my ears.
I climb out of the car and open the front gate, besides which stands a sack barrel.
Ooh, I think, nice of them to leave a sack barrel behind. Very handy. Then, gazing towards the garden shed, oohh, a surf board! Could be useful!
I head for the front door, and turn the key. Pity The Other One isn’t here to carry me over the threshold. But then we’ve been married rather a long time for that, and it would be sure to end nastily…
I push open the door, and there before me is a pile of toys. Less handy, I think to myself, than the sack barrel or the surf board. In fact, less than handy altogether. And am I beginning to smell a rat?
The heating is on full blast. Strange for a vacated house. Yet we completed at 2 pm, and now I am in my new legal home, after Completion, and no-one else has a right to be in it. Not even the numerous fish swimming round in the extremely large fish tank in the sitting room, fully plugged in and using our electricity.
I walk into the kitchen, where there’s a fairly unpalatable dining room table and an awful lot of stacked dining chairs, not to mention houseplants.
I am beginning to feel like Snow White entering the dwarfs’ abode. Where are the dwarfs, I might have asked myself, had I not been feeling so ill all I wanted to do was go to bed. So, upstairs I trot. The least the old owners could have done was left me a nice bed to sleep on.
I wander from room to room. Yup. Each room has a variety of knick and knack in it, random bags and furniture, and a very fair sprinkling of…not exactly fairy-dust, but good honest household dust. And grime.
If my heart had been capable of sinking, but bearing in mind it was half-sunk already, as I was dying of flu, it sure as hell would have sunk then. Plunk. Into my boots. And not a feather-bed in sight.
I wander back downstairs and walk back along the hallway towards the kitchen. Halfway along, I hesitate. I have omitted to inspect the dining room and the conservatory, and there’s a strange rectangle of white cardboard attached (at a skewed angle) to the door, on which is written in capital letters: DO NOT ENTER. DOG AND CATS.
“Just a minute,” I think to myself. “This is my house. I have paid a great deal of money for it. Since when am I not allowed to enter one of the rooms in my house?”
I cautiously push open the door. There is an immediate and frantic scrabbling of claws across wooden floor. Without waiting to see said creatures, or risk a bite in the ankles (the dog was caged up during the viewing), I hastily shut the door.
There’s nothing for it but to clear one of the rooms of the intruders’ furniture and unload the car. Sadly the room in question is upstairs (having the least in it). Hacking and sniveling up and down the stairs, I have just completed this exercise (and it feels like a full marathon) and I am wheezing down the garden path to drive away and go and die in some café somewhere, when the ex-owner pulls up, winds down his car window and grins broadly.
“Are you all right?” he says.
Welcome back to Yorkshire, I think to myself.