Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Moving Tale

Family Fun while elegantly dressed on the South Bank in 2007

Never again. Once I get to the other side of the known world, I’ll never again put my jumbo sized stapler and me through the ordeal known as moving. To House of Pants, it was more disruptive than if Alexander McQueen had hooked up with Hugo Chavez and imposed a long overdue state of fashion emergency.
The photo above is of a family I don’t know. I took it myself last summer. I don’t think the faces are distinguishable enough for them to complain that I haven’t secured their permission to release the picture into the public domain. They ought to be glad, it’s a good photo and the little girl is elegantly dressed for drenching if I’m not much mistaken.

It's not, however the photo that I wanted to put up tonight. House of Pants now resembles a junkie’s doss house. For several days I've been sleeping there on my ancient mattress which I fully intend to leave in the street. I’ve been waiting a generation to do that. I will, however, phone Hackney Council's free bulky waste service and ask them the pick it up rather than just abandon it like everyone else does. I took a photo of the grubby nest in which I've been sleeping, but it's trapped in the Kodak like an outtake from Jumanji.

I also don’t have access to the picture I took of the lovely removalists from Birmingham who magically spirited all my stuff away. Quite what my assorted chattels plan on doing in Birmingham, I can’t imagine. I can only hope Barney stays away from the Bullring. I've had him cryogenically frozen in a charming 1950s cocktail shaker I had lying around. It seemed a shame to offer it on Freecycle when it could provide a perfect temporary home for Barney. I’ve never seen him happier and, to be honest, the silence is bliss. I have a photo of that too.

The removalists were incredibly efficient, and therein lies the problem. Somehow the little lead that connects the Kodak to the computer slipped through a crack in the security cordon I set up to separate the ‘needed on voyage’ items from the rest of the tat I got fed up sorting out and just piled in a corner. Needless to say, that lead and my spare contact lenses are now languishing in a warehouse in Birmingham and I have put the Bosch electric drill, my Gore-Tex jacket and ski gloves on Freecycle. I found them all in the rubble after the removalists had left. I actually ran down the street after them with my nearly new Dr Scholl's sandals and that was embarrassing enough.

So I slipped out today in time I didn’t really have, to buy another camera to computer lead in order to carry on posting my own photos. After wading through several layers of queue-disrespecting tourists in Peruvian bobble hats, I finally found a nine-year-old in Curry’s who appeared to understand what was meant by ‘a lead that connects a digital camera to a computer’. Seriously, these can’t have a specific name can they? What would you call it? A Kodakacon? A Compudak?

Mindful of the propensity of modern manufacturers to create unique connection systems in order to maximise income from accessories, I asked said nine-year-old, ‘are these universal?’ He nodded, of course he did, as he would have had I asked him, ‘are these a cure for cancer, do you know?’ So I get back to my house-sit and locate a chainsaw to open the carton. It clearly proclaims itself a Digital Camera USB Cable so there is no question of gingerliness on my part in getting to the produce. I need to liberate my pictures, fast. The lead does not fit the Kodak and my £15 is up the spout. Calling all Freecyclers - anyone want a camera to computer lead that probably won’t fit your camera?

It's now clear to me just how seriously difficult it’s going to be managing my cyber-life on the road. I haven’t even left town yet and I’ve already lost the ability to manage my images. I now have total sympathy for all of Britney Spears’s multiple personalities.

What used to constitute my ‘stuff’ has all taken a separate journey and I feel very free. I don’t worry about it because none of it is that important. Some of it gave me grief, and I’ve a few stories to tell, particularly about the piano – but that’s a post in itself.

You know me as someone who trusts no one – because I’ve said so often enough. However, when I travel, I become a person who trusts everyone. As soon as the backpack goes on, I willingly place myself at the mercy of strangers, and few have let me down. Perhaps I should spend the rest of my life travelling. I wouldn’t complain if offered that opportunity, believe me (provided someone could sort me out with the right camera/computer interface).

Leaving this city where I’ve spend half my life, and the flat where I’ve lived longer than I’ve ever lived anywhere else apart from the council flat across the road I left it for, is overwhelming to me at present. I like overwhelming, most of the time.

It was weird for me, and quite embarrassing, to have loads of strange men milling around House of Pants packing my, errr, pants. The worst moment was when they pulled out the washing machine. It had been in-situ for some eight years. The layer of grime confronting us made a mockery of the Quentin Crisp assertion that ‘after four years, you don’t notice the dust’. Believe me, it was noticed. The guys found they needed ‘a smoke’ immediately after its discovery. Either dust is very sexy, or they were revolted enough to absent themselves while I applied enough Cillit Bang to invalidate Kyoto. My final exposure as a slovenly cow was strangely liberating.

Ever helpful, the removalists explained that I needed a ‘blank cap’ to put over the hole in the pipework exposed by the departure of my now quite clean washing machine. I responded with my ‘I should know about this, why?’ look, whilst wondering if it had anything to do with contraception. It sounded vaguely familiar. Undaunted, the head removalist brokered a call to my local hardware shop who signposted me to a plumbing suppliers in Hackney Road for the ‘blank cap’ that would render my kitchen sink usable again.

Opposite Hackney City Farm, I found a plumbing shop full of young Asian men all calling each other ‘uncle’. The removalists insisted I take the companion part. It was a useful piece of advice as the term ‘blank cap’ meant nothing two miles down the road. One of the ‘uncles’ produced a piece of brass confidently. I asked how much. He said ‘One pound twenty.’ I’d given the removalists my last twenty-pound note to buy themselves a couple of pints. In Birmingham, you can actually get a couple of pints for twenty quid. There was next to nothing in my purse. I asked the ‘uncle’ to direct me to the nearest cash machine. He said, ‘how much you got?’ I was able to draw together 60p. He said, ‘Okay, okay, now go.’

When I got home, I found the cap fitted. There’s a lesson there but it’s far too esoteric to be contemplated at present…


trousers said...

Wonderful to read, and I wish you more good luck as you get ever closer to heading off.

I loved this paragraph: "What used to constitute my ‘stuff’ has all taken a separate journey and I feel very free. I don’t worry about it because none of it is that important. Some of it gave me grief, and I’ve a few stories to tell, particularly about the piano – but that’s a post in itself."

Says a hell of a lot.

Best wishes! x

That's So Pants said...

Thanks Trews

I've just come from commenting on yours. I like to think we passed in the blogosphere and perhaps nodded, not knowing that we were doing so.



Reading the Signs said...

Yes. "If the cap fits, wear it" doesn't really fit.

I don't understand about Barney and the cocktail shaker at all - I mean how does he fit inside it?

Wisewebwoman said...

Oh Pants:
I was wondering where you were, and now I know. Methought you might have been India'd already. Instead you are trialing and tribulating. I thought USB cords were, like, universal? Take the camera to a shop, we don't want to miss out on any of your shots, I love the one posted today. Now dust yourself off, girl, and GO!!

That's So Pants said...

Hi Signs

Cryogenics have advanced considerably since Han Solo turned into a block of ice all those years ago.


I DID take it to a shop but couldn't get anywhere near a counter. Oxford Street probably wasn't the best place to go I suppose. Perhaps I'll try a PC World in John O'Groats next.



Political Umpire said...

The washing machine at the flat I shared with an ex many moons ago gave up the ghost. When it was removed by the workmen certain shall we say feminine article were found having fallen down the back, which was a certain degree of embarrassment for Miss Pumpie-ex. Then the tumble dryer broke down, and the fault was traced to an underwire from Miss Pumpie-ex's bra. It's hard to be a woman, I suppose, as the song went. It's fair to say she was relieved that none of the other applicances needed mending.

I suppose the old cliche about wearing your best in case you have a road accident applies in reverse when moving house - wear your worst so that the only thing the movers are likely to see is your best.

Hope you get the electronic thing sorted, you will be missed on the blogosphere in the meantime. My stuff was left in Chch when I came to the UK, then languished in Auckland till I got a place here, then made it to England in short order but languished for at least three times the voyage duration at Tilbury docks. The final phone call I made to the moving agents before it was eventually delivered concluded with the girl on the end of the phone saying "oh and thank you Mr Pumpie for not swearing at me".

NMJ said...

Hey Pants, This is a great post, you made me laugh out loud and I wanted to shout like a pantomime dame - Oh, no they aren't! when the nine-yr-old boy claimed that camera-computer leads are universal . . .

I wish you all the best with your travelling and be sure to keep posting, wherever you are!

Take good care


That's So Pants said...

Hi Pumpie

It's the photos that are the problem. I'll still be able to blog but I do want to be able to post pictures when I'm in India.


Thanks. All the best to you for the book launch. I hope I'll be able to get it in OZ