Now I suppose you’re wondering why I’m writing this blog while sitting on a packing case, eating a hotel complimentary chocolate muffin and picking bits of brick dust and plasterboard out of my hair. There is a reasonable explanation. And although it takes some believing I promise it also reveals why I’m wearing a sailor suit and sporting a champagne cork behind one ear.
You see, just recently my life has become a little complicated. Actually it’s become VERY complicated.
And that’s because everything I ever wanted has finally arrived – but all at the same time!
For two years I’m been liaising (he would claim the correct term was arguing) with an architect about having my semi-derelict Edwardian house totally renovated and remodelled.
For the last 14 months I’ve been arguing with my wife (she would describe it as liaising) over the details for our grand silver wedding celebratory bash.
And for six months I’ve been planning and plotting the launch of my Quintessentially Quirky Tales humour book series.
It’s been a struggle but up until now I’ve been able to keep all three strands of my existence totally separate – much like a double bigamist. Granted, it involved a certain amount of circus skills – plate spinning, walking a tightrope without a safety net, juggling commitments and budgets while trying not to be too much of a clown. But I was succeeding.
Until the fateful announcement, that is. The news that the builder I’d been relentlessly wooing like a lovesick stalker had finally succumbed to my entreaties and named the day… when he would turn up and begin stripping… all the decaying plaster off my walls.
Monday September 21st
Interesting date that – two days after my long-planned silver wedding party. The first day of the very week when I’d intended to launch That’s Why The Lady is a Vamp and other Quintessentially Quirky Tales, and a fortnight before I and my beloved were scheduled to board a plane to whiz away to romantic Italy to look at a load of mummified souls who’d rashly not bothered to read Robert Harris’ Pompeii and therefore had no inkling that the lava was coming.
Yip. If you’d wanted a date guaranteed to plunge me into chaos, confusion and mental breakdown you’d have picked Monday September 21st.
Yet I couldn’t say no. Do you know how long it takes to snare a good builder – twice as long as it takes to capture a talking unicorn, that’s how long!!!
So no matter how much it was going to turn my world on its head, I vowed to make it work.
Looked at what else could be moved, postponed or called off. Tried suggesting cancelling our silver wedding cruise evening around Poole Harbour for 55 guests. Got a black eye for my troubles.
So I plumped for the safer option and decided to push back the launch of That’s Why The Lady is a Vamp by a month. It’s now taking place in October.
Not wanting to gain a second black eye, and end up doing panda impersonations, I wisely didn’t suggest cancelling the Italian jaunt.
Set about finding somewhere we could live for three months while our home was being ripped back to its skeleton and rewired and replumbed.
Bit of luck there. Due to Liz spending half her life swanning around (for some inexplicable reason this description makes her tetchy) in swanky hotels on “business trips”, she had enough loyalty points to get us nine free nights in a modest roadside inn ten minutes from our soon-to-be-wrecked hovel.
After that, we’ve managed to secure a long-term let in a holiday cottage on a farm.
Quizzed various removal firms about why THEY should get the honour of packing up our tat, battered furniture and boxes of curios and transporting them into storage. Tried joking that I had “Crate Expectations”. None of them laughed.
Indulged in a medley of phone calls, frantic emails, meetings and meetings about meetings; negotiated what clothes, computers and other necessaries would remain with us in exile and which would be incarcerated; requested designer to measure our weirdly shaped kitchen and create culinary wonderland; added up our savings to confirm that our worldly wealth equalled exactly half of what we’d require for the home refurb; had arguments – had arguments about arguments…
Then suddenly, scarily, we ran out of time. And life, which until then was merely mad, went completely BONKERS!!!
This is what the last few days have been like…
THURSDAY – FRIDAY lunchtime. Removal men (still not laughing) packed and took away our goods. But not before demanding several gallons of tea.
FRIDAY afternoon – quick photo session of empty rooms for before and after shots, then jumped into the car to visit kitchen designer who’d promised plans would be ready. Discovered he’d not even started them and had buggered off for the weekend.
Rest of FRIDAY afternoon/evening – toured various DIY superstores to look at their kitchens as decided original designer was a waste of space (which I suspect his units might well have been).
Did I mention that this was with the car packed to the gunnels with suitcases and boxes – and while we were making our way south to Poole to stay with relatives for the next day’s silver festivities?
Walked into the last kitchen shop at 7.45pm – moments before the store closed. Manger was very helpful although I suspect he’d rather have been cashing up than mollycoddling us.
Snatched meal at a gastro pub and arrived exhausted at my sister-in-law’s at 11.30pm.
SATURDAY – up and out to get clothes for silver wedding cruise and sort out the music to be played on the vessel (a ferry by day, floating gin palace by night).
On the Love Boat at 6pm, cast off at 7pm. Entire event a blur, so busy schmoozing guests that Liz and I forgot to pose together for pictures of this landmark celebration!
SUNDAY raced back 100 miles to pick up second car – also laden with cases and boxes – and headed in convoy to the temporary hotel (temporary to us. In every other respect it’s a permanent structure!) and spent an hour in the dark and drizzle transferring mountains of stuff to our now overflowing suite.
Fell into bed to be awoken at 6am on MONDAY to bolt breakfast and rush over to our empty home to let builders in at 8am dead. When I say dead, that’s a description of us – not the preciseness at which men with hard hats appeared.
And this, my friends, accounts for my rather glazed, twitchy and oddly rubble enhanced appearance. It’s what happens when you are simultaneously homeless, helpless and gormless…
Now, you may think Liz and I need our heads examined allowing this lunacy to occur.
I tend to agree, but I’m afraid that any trips to the psychiatrist will have to wait. We just haven’t got the time!