Ok, the move. I am at risk of spontaneous combustion. I am at risk of the children coming to find me and finding instead a flaming office chair and a pair of charred sheepskin slippers, smelling of burnt wool and cheesey feet. If you could scream on the internet I would do it. What was I thinking? What was I doing agreeing to move house in such a cack-handed way? I hold myself responsible. I believed my husband when he said it would be OK. It was not OK. It still is not OK. The idea of a white transit van pulling up to the front door and loading the house into it did not work. Hah! Who said it would? Who thought it would? Ever? In a month of Sundays? I feel like I have one of those creatures inside me that give Sigourney Weaver such hissy fits. An alien locked brooding behind my rib-cage, all teeth and slaver. One that does not like my husband one teeny-tiny bit. I want to do that thing they do in unfunny comedies, bang-your-forehead with the heel of your hand and say "Duh" and do it really hard.
Friday; I could not help with the move because the permanent amber alert we are on with my mother, switched to red. I spent a ghastly day watching my mother being brave and cleaning up old lady poo. My husband therefore had started the move alone. Not quite alone. Because of the pea-brained way we had decided to move house, the builders had to stop building and heft furniture and general deitris out of the cottage into the van. My husband thought they were being nice, I think they decided getting rid of us was a day well-spent.
Saturday; apart from the blizzards of last year, today's was the worst weather I have come across since we arrived almost 18 months ago - 3 degrees, driving wind and rain that wanted to hurt you. The only good thing to be said in the weekend's favour were the three friends who came to our rescue including a Northumberland farmer who arrived with a horsebox because that is how you move things in the country. I was so grateful to them I wanted to cry. They all did a lot of "Come to me, come to me, over to me. Nope, nope. Me, I said. That's right, over to me." Even if you were useless at spatial mechanics, I figure that if you say "Come to me" often enough when you are moving something large and heavy, you can probably get most things round a corner, out the door and into the van. If these large kindly men had not been wandering about my house shifting wardrobes, I think I might have killed my husband. Only the thought that the large kindly men would probably make very good witnesses for the prosecution, stopped me. At one point, I ended up driving behind my husband who was in the hire van. I flashed him eight times and peeped the horn continuously to get him to stop because we were about to go through a flooded section of the road. He drove on oblivious. I know you should not say these things with children in the car. You should at all times present a united front but I might have said "Your father is a bloody, bloody idiot" as he sped his way through the flood, abandoning me, the three children and the low-slung car in the black as pitch-darkness on the other side of the water. We were lucky; we made it through in first gear by keeping to the centre of the road. When we got home, my traitorous six-year-old ran in. "Why didn't you stop the van Daddy?" My son looked back at me with china-blue eyes: "Mummy says you're a bloody, bloody idiot." I tried to look like he made the last bit up but I do not think my husband was convinced. Over dinner that night, he said: "I think I have done really well today and yesterday. My arms are tired." Usually, I am more than prepared to play the "Yes, I think you are marvellous too, darling" card in the game of marriage but I stood up and filled the kettle instead.What I really wanted to say was: "What about me? How well am I doing? I only moved house 18 months ago. You have just made move again and you told me I wasn't really moving because it was only down the road. You lied. I could still be at home in London. "
Sunday: all day, I kept saying that the only thing I wanted was my computer in place and the internet up and running by close of play. Was it? No. At 10.30pm when the builder rang the doorbell to discuss building plans and I said to my husband "It's too late, tell him to go away, I have to have the computer up and running tonight." Did he say: "Yes, you are right. I will tell him to go away." He did not. He said: "He's here now" and went to let him in. This meant I did not get the computer running last night. Sometimes, I stop and ask myself whether I have actually said what I thought I said to him. I have to think really hard whether I just thought the words or whether I said them out loud. When you get married and you stand there in an ivory satin dress with its slightly grubby train caught up in a loop that weighs down your wrist, at some point in the evening, an apple-cheeked couple will totter arm-in-arm across to you. Your great aunt, or someone who looks like she could be, will take your manicured hand into her little bony hand. She will look up at you and say: "We have been married 138 years haven't we Arthur?". Arthur, who is leaning precariously on his stick, will say "Eh? What did you say? ". She will put her hand on his arm and she will shout into his good ear: "A hundred and thirty-eight years, haven't we Arthur?" and Arthur will nod emphatically. "My advice to you," and she will draw you so close that you smell parma violets on her breath, "is never go to bed on an argument." You look across their munchkin heads and you think: "How wise." When you are a wife and not a bride, you remember your great-aunt's violet-scented advice of that night and you realise, she must have been senile by then.
Monday/today; I drive my six-year-old to school. I drive back to the wrong house because I had, understandably in my opinion, momentarily forgotten where I lived. I curse. I drive back to the rented house where I am now living to find my husband running up and down the street. As I open the door of the Saab, he tells me I drove off to school with the keys to the Volvo and to the hire van on top of the roof. He put them there. He has miraculously found the keys to the Volvo a mile down the road at the roundabout. He cannot find the keys to the hire van. There are no large kindly men around. I contemplate killing him. He says he wants to cry and that he is going to have an asthma attack. I decide killing him might traumatise the baby and my four-year-old who are still belted into the back of the Saab. Instead, we drive very slowly down the road with my head out of the passenger window looking for the electronic fob. As we crawl along the road, a friend's car passes us and we wave cheerily to the driver. I am not feeling remotely cheery but I am mindful of my husband's reputation locally. When my husband locked us out of the cottage, the driver who just passed us had to scale a ladder and vault over our bedroom window to let us in again. He must be 60 if he is a day. I am pretty sure he told people. We drive on into the village and I start going into shops to see if anyone has handed the keys in. What I really want to say is: "My husband is an idiot. Have you seen his carkeys?" What I actually say is: "You haven't seen any car keys around have you?" Eventually, the lady who works in the butchers directs me to a woman down the road, who has handed them to another woman who has handed them into the local school. I find them and say thank you.