What a carry on…

Fountain removals have been very busy of late attempting to render mum’s three storey and seriously jam packed house “zimmer friendly” with a view to dad being sprung from hospital. This has not been a walk in the park. Indeed the occasional walk in the park with the lovely Lyra has been the only thing keeping the shattered remnants of our good humour intact (and some fraying at the edges has been noted). Soothing images provided below to ease the trauma of this post.

The main obstacles to “your dad’s bike”, as mum insists on calling the 4 wheel zimmer, were a coat each, hall table and enormous book case with cupboards beneath. These were full to overflowing with a lifetime’s supply of coats and hats, riding gear, a shooting stick, books triple stacked, a bust of Sir Walter Scott and a tasteful array of jugs and what have you balanced like a garnish on top. The effect was lovely, but they all had to be moved. We identified the dining room as the likeliest place for most items but to get them in there there was a china cabinet to be moved and space to relocate this was needed. My old bedroom was still, even after our first winnowing, largely still full of things displaced in the epic loft conversion dad commenced but never quite finished and items destined for the new kitchen, which project had stalled as a result of the heady combination of the withdrawal of the carefully selected units from the range of the supplier, dad’s illness and lockdown. All cupboards everywhere were full to bursting. This was all just the result of an unfortunate coincidence of events, but, to use the technical term, a bugger’s muddle to sort out.

Mum is, by nature, a collector. She has an excellent eye and the intensely frustrating thing is that, whilst we knew some things just had to go, there were only a few few “easy wins”. I hadn’t the heart to be terribly ruthless and there was a certain amount of squirrelling “extra” china services, cache pots and decanters into odd nooks and crannies. We both know we are deferring an inevitable month of Sophie’s Choice moments, but sufficient unto the day etc etc. Dad’s exercise bike was, however, waved off to the tip with a degree of glee as it has been barking everyone’s shins in the shed for years. I don’t think tears were shed over mum’s step machine either. The clothes that no longer fitted were in good nick and therefore had to be bagged for the charity shop once it reopens and are still lurking in my old bedroom waiting breathlessly for next month and a new life on a large bloke with a fondness for all things blue. (I also returned home with a huge bag of pristine (but now too small for dad) golfing jumpers (whose golfing day’s are over and once I can get to them in the shed the clubs are earmarked for a one way trip to the clubhouse in the sky..). Mysteriously, these items now fit me – which is something I prefer not to think about. I shall be the smartest cold weather gardener in town. For sentimental reasons (of which Keith will disapprove) I also claimed dad’s old sheepskin coat. He always wore this when we went to Glasgow for the Christmas shopping and I remember vividly barrelling along through the Argyll Street crowds in his wake, hanging on to the back. He also used to wear this for our Flanagan and Allen Underneath the Arches double act at the New Year. This venerable item, slipped over the jammies, is a fine garment for letting the dog into the field for a pee on a frosty morning. )

But I digress. After the traumatic experience of making space, moving the coat rack, china cabinet and hall table and emptying the book case we had the final challenge of moving the bookcase. Mum was sent off with Lyra and Keith, Lachlan and I rolled up our sleeves. We tried it upright, sideways, tilted at an angle, slid along the floor on a quilt – all in vain. It would not go through the dining room door. There was nothing for it but to take it upstairs to the landing outside the spare room – the only wall space left big enough. But this space was occupied by a giant roll of carpet destined for my old bedroom once converted into a sewing room. (The carpet had been originally intended for mum’s bedroom but was purchased before dad enthusiastically ripped out the fitted wardrobes and thus turned out to be the wrong size. As a family, such things happen to us…. Anyhow it was being saved.) Well the future sewing room was now stacked floor to ceiling by displaced furniture so conversion is not imminent. I promised faithfully to supply a gold plated new carpet in the future, as needed, and we resolved to extricate the roll. It was huge. We humphed it over the bannister and let gravity take it down the stairs. Houses further down the road shook. And yes, you anticipated correctly – it was too big to navigate the narrow turning at the bottom to get it out the door. Lachlan clambered over the top and returned with an old saw from the shed. In sheer desperation we sawed the carpet in half (Lachlan and Keith bickering throughout as to the correct method for sawing carpet). We humped it out the door and up the front stairs and Keith screamed down to the tip with the long half sticking out as it didn’t fit in the car either….

The carry on removal team were, by this stage, done. Sid James’ knee was creaking, Hattie Jacques was in high dudgeon and Alan Dale was mute with silent rage. We packed mum into the car, protesting, locked the door on the carnage and drove back to Ruthven and a takeaway provided most kindly by the Plough even though it was their day off – they knew a family in need when they saw one. After a few days off Mum and I returned and tackled the clear up. The winnowing of the books” commenced. (Predictably they wouldn’t all fit back in the bookcase and there were 5 additional sacks of books here and there to be taken into account). She is keeping the two Spanish dictionaries, the Greek phrase book and the leather bound books of terrible poetry that look nice. Two volumes of World Opera magazines have received a stay of execution. In a small triumph I convinced mum that she was never going to read the history of Nero in French and could lose at least one book of household hints. My case that thrillers did not lend themselves to rereading was heard with stony scepticism. A small bag of rejects was grudgingly assembled. Auntie Sybil then popped by with Willa the mournful hound to see how we were getting on. Yes, she left with them so they could be checked through for “keepers” to add to her own book piles. It is a family failing……

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