'I feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz': The difficulties of moving house during a pandemic

Sophia Money-Coutts
·4 min read
Boxing day: unpacking everything will be a welcome distraction in the next six months - PeopleImages
Boxing day: unpacking everything will be a welcome distraction in the next six months - PeopleImages

After seven months of squatting at my sister’s house, I’ve moved out. (My sister’s house isn’t a squat and I had a jolly nice bedroom but managed to pepper the carpet with hair ties, earplugs and underwear, so I suspect it was time for me to go.)

The mortgage took months because banks demand every bit of paper you’ve ever touched; there was a skirmish over a dead tree in my garden, and, a few weeks ago, I accidentally sent the other side’s solicitor an email calling him an “idiot”, which I’m not sure sped up the process. But on Tuesday, I got my keys.

What a week to move, though. I’ve felt like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, battening down hatches ahead of the storm. Would my furniture arrive from storage? Would my new TV arrive before the apocalypse? Could I move in, helped by three burly Polish delivery men, a locksmith, an internet man, and avoid infecting the 81-year-old lady who lives above me? My phone pinged constantly with Covid guidelines from all businesses involved. I had to provide soap and towels, open all the windows and everyone had to wear masks.

Nobody wore masks. The Polish men and I veered widely around one another instead, like a troupe of Morris dancers. And inevitably, even though I’ve been dreaming of this move since February, almost nothing went smoothly. The first casualty was my back, which had put itself out two days earlier, like a teenager trying to shirk PE. Can one move house without lifting a box? No, is the short answer, so I hobble around distributing bins and loo brushes bent double and my new neighbours must think a poor, recent widow has moved into her twilight home.

Next, I discovered the boiler wasn’t working, so I called a plumber, who sucked his breath through his teeth and told me I should think about a new one, after presenting me with a £600 bill for his service and time.

Shortly afterwards, I turned on a light in the kitchen and leapt back 10ft (that was particularly terrific for my back) because the switch was live. Out comes an electrician, who fixes the switch but tells me he can smell burning wire near the boiler. I tell him the plumber’s only just been. The electrician looks sad and says I really should have an inspection, but he’s not qualified to do it. Another electrician is coming tomorrow.

The washing machine smells like a family of mice are living in it, there’s no cooker (and I’m not sure I can afford one now because of all the electricians), the locksmith’s van got stuck in the drive and its spinning back wheels sprayed pebbles at my sitting room window. Could I help push him out? Why not. Who needs a spinal column anyway?

But it’s mine and I’m in, and I’m typing this from bed, looking out over my new garden. I miss my nieces screaming about broccoli and running into my room with pink cheeks after their baths, and the idea of facing lockdown alone is dreary. Although I’ve got plenty to do because it’s going to take my back and me about six months to unpack all these boxes.

If I’m going to snitch on anyone, it will be those morons whizzing by on electric scooters

In the past week alone, one cyclist nearly drowned in Regent’s Park canal after an electric scooter struck her, and the police had to stop some moron ripping along the M3 on his. I hate them and they’re everywhere, people cruising along like giant children, without helmets, jumping on and off pavements.

Yesterday, one chap wove between my car and a bus in rush-hour traffic with earphones in. Pillock. Electric scooters are allowed in certain towns and cities under emergency measures introduced in July to help those trying to avoid public transport, although it’s been reported that they’ll soon be fitted with number plates because British users are the most anti-social in Europe. Can’t happen soon enough. If I’m going to snitch, it’ll be on one of them.

Ketchup moonshine – why on earth didn’t we think of that in our student days?

Prisoners at HMP Erlestoke have been caught making moonshine. It sounds like something from Porridge – officers apparently “received intelligence” about the “clandestine brewing” and discovered the lags had cooked up more than 600 pints of a drink make from “old fruit, sugar, mouldy bread, ketchup and water through an old cloth.”

Honestly, if they fancy a drink that badly, should we not let them have it? It reminds me (a bit) of student days, when we’d order Long Island iced teas in dubious bars on the basis it had the punchiest combination of alcohol – triple sec, vodka, rum, gin and tequila – and would get us drunk the fastest. Ketchup-flavoured hooch would have been much better.

 

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