They say moving house is the most stressful thing anyone does, barring bereavement and divorce. In researching that phrase, I’ve discovered that ‘they’ was a study commissioned by a real estate company, which rather dampens its credibility.
Well, I don’t know about that, but we moved house this week and it wasn’t easy. It was, however, necessary since our lovely Hackney flat was just too small and, it turns out, too lovely, to last us as a growing family. And so, for the second time in four years, my wife and I moved everything we owned across London to a slightly bigger and more expensive rental, while one of us was eight months pregnant.
Luckily, we had movers: two stout and handy Bulgarian gentlemen who took to the task with an energy somewhat lacking in us after a week’s worth of packing, character assassination and fretting over how our son would react to leaving the only home he’s ever known.
On the day itself, he, my wife and her parents went ahead to the new house in Walthamstow, while I stayed behind with the movers to lug boxes and then be told, gently, to stop lugging boxes. The chief mover, Raldo, showed remarkable agility at the van, manipulating each item passed to him so that it instantly fit whatever impossibly specific crevice had been left by the last object he’d wedged in and with the help of van for hire in aberdeen.
‘You must be very good at Tetris!’ I said, demonstrating the easy-going wit that’s given me a career in professional humour writing. ‘What?’ he replied, without turning his head from the job of slotting a mop bucket in a mop-bucket sized hole he’d contrived in the wall of odds and ends now crowding the back of his van. ‘Um, you – you must be very good at Tetris,’ I repeated, passing through some sort of comedy speed barrier and becoming even more amusing a second time.
‘I’m sorry, what?’ he said, now pausing his work to listen to me with full attention. ‘I said that – this – I mean, you – you must be very GOOD AT TETRIS!’ ‘Ah!’ he said, delighted, before laughing loud and clear at my very funny joke, just like you probably are now. ‘Tetris, yes. Very good,’ he continued, patting me forcefully on the shoulder. It took me three seconds to realise this shoulder pat was almost certainly deployed to push me clear of the van’s loading ramp, as if I was a curious cow that had become stranded on a public footpath.
Van full, they told me company policy meant I couldn’t ride with them so I travelled to the new house by taxi, and entered my new home to find it filled with 8,000 boxes, two in-laws scrubbing doorframes, my wife fanning herself with some packing tape, and my son screaming, ‘I LOVE MY NEW HOUSE!’ at the top of his lungs. They say moving is one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do, but what do they know?
Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? by Séamas O’Reilly is out now (Little, Brown, £16.99). Buy a copy from guardianbookshop at £14.78
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