Wednesday, July 29, 2009

George Michael, moving, and due dates

So we're all moved in to the new place. The move, as in packing up the house and moving it between A and B, went as smoothly as these things go. I can say from first hand experience that even if you use a high-end moving company you still encounter things like wet bath toys and cloths in boxes, despite expressly saying to the packers 'If stuff is wet don't pack it.' Or discovering your soap dish, with the wet sliver of soap still in it, all wrapped up in a piece of paper. The paper, soap, and dish now merged into one dried inseparable mess. Or heavy items placed on top of rolls of wrapping paper effectively squashing the whole roll in half so it's now unusable. Or finding your missing shoes all shoved one on top of the other inside another box with completely unrelated stuff.

But I'm just nit picking and all in all it was an OK experience (as opposed to a nightmarish one that these things usually are), and the movers were careful with our furniture and everything made it in once piece. They also had an excellent moving manager, a man in his late fifties, 'a born and bred Clerkenwell cockney', who I enjoyed talking to over the three days they packed up our house. He had opinions on everything, and appeared to have given a variety of random topics a great deal of thought.

On George Michael, he poignantly noted, "I mean, that one could ave had any woman e wanted. I remember pictures of im with the ladies anging off his arms. Could ave ad e's pick. But no, e's got to go and be stupid and choose that gay business. And for what? Too much choice and time on e's ands that's what it is. They get bored you see."

Asked if he used the Internet much he replied, "Internet? Oose got time for that? We're common you see, we don't use none of that Internet. I work all day, get ome. It's a nice piece of pork and some tatoes, a bit of TV, an bed."

An exchange between him and one of his staff went as follows:
Mover: 'Ow ow, my hand,' (while trying to get a sofa down a flight of stairs and evidently getting said hand squished between the sofa and the wall)
John: "Never you mind your and, just make sure you don't damage that sofa."

The new house is, and I have to give credit to Roberto for this, quite lovely. I had a lot of reservations about how it was going to work for us, with a toddler and all, but so far it's revealed itself to be a remarkably well thought-out family home, but in a very modern setting. I've asked Julia on a few occasions if she likes it and she keeps saying, 'No.' I then follow that by asking her if she likes chocolate, and she immediately says, 'No,' and then gets an expression on her face which reads, 'I've just been had.'

Our two top choices for nursery have no spaces for next year. One of them only takes 16 children, the other's enquiry form asks for your due date, which should have alerted me to the fact that I was wasting my time applying at this late stage. I mean, a year in advance, what was I thinking right? A third place appears to have spaces, thank god, but we have to pay an application fee and then based on an assessment of Julia next year in a playgroup setting, they say yay or nay. So it's not guaranteed. I've also put her name down on the waiting lists of the other two schools, just in case.

This is one of the many things that people don't tell you before you decide to start a family - these hidden forms of worry and stress that arise, like finding the right school. A safe, nurturing, and stimulating environment that is going to have the same approach and ideas about learning that you have. Plus minus any masochistic teachers with a predilection for hitting small children with wooden rulers (don't get me started on my junior school). And without any heavy religious leaning (or any religion at all, sez Roberto).

You just want to get it right and do the best thing for your child, and having said that, I realise how much like my mother I sound. Which makes me appreciate just how much my parents must have loved and cared about me. Which feels like a nice and happy thought to sign out on.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

These are what we call quality problems

So we are just about to move, as in quite literally just about to move. Today the chaps came and packed up most of the house, tomorrow they'll finish, and Friday we move into our new home. It's an all man crew, and I think the 20-something-year-old chap who is sporting some impressive sleeves (that's tattoo speak for both arms covered from wrist to shoulder in ink) will be packing up my underwear drawer tomorrow. I have mixed feeling about this (him being a man that is, not the tats) but then rationalise rather him than me.

Naturally ahead of the guys arriving today, we had to have the requisite porn sweep. This is my term for pretty much anything you want to put into a box yourself rather than have the aforementioned 20-year-old stranger come across, I mean, discover. You know the sort of thing - creams and lotions for embarrassing body ailments, dodgy stuff your girlfriends gave you at your hen night (as yet unwrapped fyi), your copy of Debretts, etc.

Anyway, so most of the house is packed up. The guys left Julia's bedroom as is until tomorrow, "So the little un don't get upset." And they have a point. She's already quite disconcerted to see her home for a year pretty much in boxes. Walls bare apart from a few menacing-looking exposed nails here and there, furniture gone, and everything topsy turvy. She's been walking around from room to room saying, "Is empty."

This is only the second time we've had people pack up our place for us, and while it's a god-send and I highly recommend it, it's also a tricky business. If you do it yourself you are in a position to dig something out if you still need it. Whereas with someone else doing it stuff is packed and sealed and loaded on a van as much as two days before you actually leave your old house. As a result, for e.g., I have peppercorns all over the kitchen floor and no dustpan to deal with them. Oh yes, and I kind of sort of forgot to keep bibs back. And dish clothes, and dishwasher tablets. You're getting the idea right? Fortunately I managed to rescue the bottle opener just in time. What with those cold beers for tonight in the fridge and all.

I've gone through varying emotions about our move. I think anyone that knows me knows how much I love our current house. Built in the 30's it's my idea of the perfect family home; Light, airy, classic architecture but with a modern interior, roomy but still cosy feeling, and a great garden. Unfortunately the landlord doesn't want to sell nor did he want to reduce rent to an amount that was in line with the changed market. Almost everyone we know that rents has managed to get a reduction this year, except us. Indeed not only are we paying too much, but we were contractually obliged to meet a rent increase this coming year. So yes, it was time to move.

The new place is very different to where we live now. Very very modern, which means Roberto loves it. I'm looking forward to the benefits of the integrated family design its based on, which is really just fancy speak for a place that is big enough so a family don't drive each other nuts, but also structured in a way so that you feel connected with one another. Also it's in the heart of the village which means I can pop out to Tesco's in my pj's if need be. Naturally this will never ever happen, but I like the sound of it. It makes me feel like I'm living on the edge.

In and amongst all of this I am phoning around getting Julia's name down for nursery schools next year. One of the places has on its online enquiry form: 'Date of birth/due date:' Yes, that is for parents who want to register their unborn child. I kid you not. And what's worse is as ludicrous as I find this, I still catch myself getting swept up in it all, phoning around like a maniac and saying things like, "No no, but you don't understand. It's vitally important to us that there is some continuity between nursery and reception year. So she has to be on the list!" And breathe out.

I didn't even go to nursery school. I don't think my parents could afford it, and in those days it wasn't really considered a necessity. I think my mum prided herself on the fact that she didn't have to send me to nursery because she was a stay at home mum, like it was something parents only did because they had to work. She recently told me that as a baby she'd entertain me/keep me busy while she did chores, by parking my buggy in front of the operating washing machine. Yes, I imagine an analyst, were I to have one, would have a field day with that. Not to mention the more sarcastic among my friends.

Anyway I did find that the first year of reception or Grade 1 as we called it, was a bit more of a challenge for me than other kids, and this probably had a lot to do with not having gone to nursery. Some of these kids already knew their ABC's, and basic counting, and that it wasn't OK to bend someones finger back until it nearly broke. So clearly there was a lot more to this nursery business than just expensive child care.

Tonight we are having takeout sushi (me love sushi is pretty damn good btw) on our remaining sofa, making sure we have a change of undies and enough clothes and toys for Julia for the next 48 hours (which means a lot), and then it's all stations go. More once we've landed... .