The thing I love about London is that you can carry a large wooden stool down the street, bring it on the tube, proceed to sit on it while riding the tube, then carry it down the street again and no one bats an eye. In America I’m sure at least someone would have quipped “Brought your own seat, eh? Smart!”
Why was I carrying a stool around London? I’ll get to that.
On Thursday we moved home — I believe that’s the phrase they use here, “move home,” along with “removal company,” which makes sense linguistically, but I still imagine the removal company removing all of your belongings and then taking them away forever when I see “removal” on the side of a van. But I digress. We moved and as I say every time, moving is the worst. We had the movers pack for us, which you’d think would make the process stress-free, but it was still completely mentally and physically draining. We didn’t get the keys to our new place until the day of, and discovered that not only did the previous owner not clean the flat whatsoever, but they took the chandeliers with them, meaning we walked into a nearly pitch-black flat. Stephen had to run out to buy £5 lamps at Argos just so the movers could see where they were going. So we had plenty to deal with at our new place, but things also had to be settled at our old flat. There was some miscommunication regarding the check out inspection and I found out Friday morning it was at noon and I had booked the flat to be cleaned at 2pm. So I had to frantically find a cleaner who could start as soon as possible and got the inspection moved to 2:30, the latest they could do. But before I could go over to meet the inspector, I had to supervisor the cleaners at our new place (who were not happy about all the boxes everywhere!), let in the guy to install our internet (superfast fibre, yay!) and wait for the sofa delivery. As expected, the sofa guys arrived 10 minutes before I had to go to meet the inspector at our old flat, so I let them in then asked the porter to supervise them. Then my stool and I were off.
About the stool — at our old place we took down some of the landlord’s curtains in the bedroom. I put them in the closet with the towels, but by the time I remembered we needed to rehang them, the movers had packed them up. Once we moved I dug the curtain out of the towel box. Time was of the essence because I needed to get to the flat before the inspector arrived and quickly hang it up. Because of the delayed sofa delivery, Uber was no longer an option, so my stool and I rode the tube. I got to the flat at 2:20pm — just in time to stand on my stool, hold the curtain up and realize I was missing curtain hooks.
I explained to the inspector that I had the hooks at home in a box somewhere and could bring them later. He said it wasn’t his problem — his job was just to photograph and inspect the flat, which was still in a quasi state of disarray despite the fact that the cleaner had been working for 3 hours. I sat on my stool and waited for him to finish. Since the cleaner was still working and I had to lock up after her, he told me to drop the keys off at the estate agent’s office after the cleaner was done. When she finally finished, without thinking, I promptly packed up the items we had forgotten in the top closet, left the curtain in the wardrobe, and loaded my stool into an Uber to the estate agent. I carried my stool into the office, handed over the keys, then loaded my stool into another Uber to go home. There was no way I was walking it to the tube in the dark. When I got home I asked the porter how the sofa delivery went. He said he had something he must ask me.
“Why are you carrying that thing all around?”
I could only laugh.
It’s called the laugh of recognition / When you laugh but you feel like dyin’ – Over the Rhine
The next day I did nothing but unpack, yet the boxes seemed to be multiplying. And what did I find in the bottom of the towel box? (“Curtain hooks!” I bet you’re thinking, but no, the curtain hooks appear to be gone forever and I almost lost my mind searching for them.) Another curtain. Because of course the window has two curtains. So I need to make another trip to the flat. I guess I always needed to make another trip to the flat. Which begs the question: why the heck did I bring the stool all the way back?
So today my stool and I have another Tube date. Maybe I should go at rush hour just to have a seat. I can’t wait to see the porter’s face when he sees me and my stool again.