Thursday, November 22, 2018

Bag and baggage

Michael (surrounded by boxes) Thursday

They say that moving home is the third most stressful event after a death in the family and a divorce. I guess the latter usually includes moving home, so there is a quantum jump there. I think the stress is largely driven by the deadline, and the sinking feeling that there simply won’t be enough time to get everything done by the time the moving truck arrives. (Oh, by the way, remember to arrange the moving truck.) This was aggravated by the much more enjoyable experience of launching Dead of Night in Johannesburg with Stan. (Cape Town in February; US middle of next year.) That left less than a week to deal with the packing. Stan and I actually wanted to fit in a short Botswana trip also for research on the new Kubu book. In desperation I contacted the purchasers of my townhouse and asked if they could give me a week’s grace. No dice – they were snowed under by commitments on their side.

With the removals truck looming first thing last Tuesday morning, we worked until 1:30 am in the morning and were back again at 7 am. The movers arrived at 10:30 am as we taped up the last box. The rest of the day was spent checking inventories and explaining what should and should not be taken. I have a few bottles of wine. No way was that going in a removals truck. My car groaned under the 300 kgs. Okay, more than a few bottles. Oh, and my best pictures. The artist has now become well known, so I could never replace them, or even insure them for a reasonable value. They squeezed in on top of the wine. Then there was my Chiwara. That had to fit in too. It's not a convenient shape. And a few clothes. And all the last-minute stuff we missed…

The Chiwara made it!
Finally there was the Skimmer. I place on record that the Skimmer belongs to Stan, although it is on ‘permanent loan from the collector’ as the art museums say. It's delicate, and we both love it. That had to travel on the passenger’s lap. For 750 miles. I can’t show you what it looks like this week, because it will not be escaping from its bubble wrap until it is truly safe. And that means when the builders, movers, TV installers, internet installers, security alarm installers, cupboard carpenters, and painters are no longer daily visitors.

The mystery bird in protective plumage

So one week ago, dirty, stressed, and exhausted after cleaning the townhouse, we set off for Knysna. After about 250 miles we stopped for the night in Bloemfontein, grateful that at least that stage was over. All was well until the next morning when the credit card used to pay the hotel disappeared somewhere between the reception desk and the car. Or into the car. So everything that could come out did. This included a toilet brush in a ceramic holder which shattered as it descended to the ground at speed. Two hibiscuses and two ferns in pots. Assorted marker pens. Some chocolate. Everything except the errant credit card. Once the whole car was unpacked in Knysna, it turned up slipped between the seats and under the carpet. It was still chuckling. That was well after it had been cancelled, of course.

So why, in fact, would one do this to oneself? Well, yesterday evening as friends in Johannesburg fought their way home through the rush hour traffic, we relaxed on the deck with glasses of Macon and watched the bushbuck making a living from the lush grasses on the hill around us. The harsh sound of automobiles was replaced by the harsh calls of Knysna turacos and the more musical ones of bou bou shrikes. And we looked out at the Knysna lagoon.

Now to unpack another box. Maybe this one will have the cutlery…



  1. Ugh. Your story gives me nightmares. I hope to die in the house we've been living in for over 30 years. To move would require a match...

  2. I keep saying that the next time I move it will involve ONE box...with me in it!