Moving house, they say, is the most stressful thing a person does in their lifetime.
During the big portions of one’s life when one is not moving house, it’s easy to scoff at this – it’s just putting things in boxes then taking them out again a few miles to the left! Not more stressful, surely, than bereavement or performing open heart surgery or when the comedy magician asks for a volunteer from the audience and looks straight at you?
But then you move house, and realise that every smug beaming glossy magazine shoot of a low-rent celeb “relaxing in her new Hertfordshire mansion” is a fat great lie, because moving house is Satan’s pastime. Nothing is designed to expose your flawed humanity more than having to sort through every single item you own and justify its place in your life.
For my boyfriend this is a swift process, because he owns approximately 12 things. He will put his 12 things in a box, dust his hands off, then mosey on into our new life and casually put the kettle on. Sooner or later I suppose he will notice that I’m not there, because I’ll be trapped under a mountain of my own greedy consumerism, quietly muttering about how I really DO need the third ornamental tea set while my spine snaps like a twig.
The problem isn’t even too many clothes, or shoes, or useful things like kitchenware. It’s all the surplus other stuff, the useless but lovely stuff that I can’t throw away because I’ve laden it with personal significance and sentimental value. And dust.
Here, just so you know I’m not exaggerating, are some of the things I own that might not be ‘strictly necessary’ in the new flat:
A dressmaker’s dummy called Gertrude
A steamer trunk with nothing in it
A mannequin head
Two rotary dial telephones
A telephone shaped like a duck
A set of antlers
A tiger print cowboy hat
A basket big enough for a grown man to sit inside
Two suitcases far too dilapidated to use outside the house
A box of dead butterflies
A framed poster of Marc Bolan
A musical box with a wind-up clown in it
A bunch of dried lavender
A box containing every piece of tissue paper ever to enter my possession, in case one day I “do some craft”
Three rolls of Christmas wrapping paper
A framed photo of my great auntie Margaret, dressed as a cowgirl
A 3ft promotional Guinness blackboard
A soda siphon that doesn’t work
A cuddly toy!