We moved into our fnal resting place in 2001 on Halloween to be precise, six years later as I contemplated calling the builders in for Phase II of the R£NOVATION, I spent my time day dreaming especially about those little ways and means of making the budget stretch just that little bit further....
"I swear the chimney creaked today. So I have been eyeing all day. As the winds howl round it and sleet slaps into it horizontally, I swear it must be moving - I actually want it to fall down! I long for it to fall down.
Just think of the damage a nine-foot chimney could do. Not those tall skinny ones on the more modern house such as a Georgian or Victorian one but a good old Tudor/Jacobean one, which houses an inglenook the size of a highly desirable London bed-sit.
Bearing in mind the Westerly gale, it should fall down the eastern part of the roof smashing through the attic, crashing across the small room, hopefully catching Charlie’s bedroom window on the way down. Wrecking the render perhaps? A good honest bit of damage. Roughly, what? Say £30,000 - £40,000.
I almost feel like walking along the roof ridge to give it a bit of a nudge. However, after some 450 years of being up there, my hopes are hardly likely to come true – I’ll just have to resort to the Lottery again.
Oh, how happy and naïve we were when we heard that the house was ours. The euphoria carried us for weeks and then the business of moving again cast a cloud over my existence. This would be the third move in two years – I suddenly realised just what my poor mother had to put up with following my father round the world with increasing regularity.
Whereas the move from London had been organised and slick, the move to Rookyard from rented accommodation was anything but. There was no Charlie to help; he was too tired of an evening to pack everything away. So it was left to me. I tried to put everything back in the right boxes but this time instead of knowing where everything was I didn’t and I didn’t know where I it was going either!
The pressure was increased when our landlord kindly informed us that he had already let the house we were renting to the underbidders – the family that had gone on holiday.
So, there I was, frantically packing and cleaning and longing to get out of there before the Underbidders turned up. They were due to come round the house on the day we moved out. With luck we shouldn’t meet.
Luck’s not like that.
In the middle of slapping post it notes on the boxes, scrubbing the banisters, stuffing the cats into their basket, the Jack Russels go off in paroxysms of barking.
And there she is getting out of her gleaming brand new navy blue Volvo – the wife of the Underbidder.
As she stalks her way to the door she barks: “Well we made you pay for it!”
She enters: “Well, you haven’t done much with this place have you?”
She stomps upstairs: “Well, we’ll have to get them to make this room up, I’m not paying all this rent for that.”
I haven’t uttered a word, my mind has atrophied with shock and all the things I should be saying just don’t.
Me: “Well, umm, would you like some tea?”
To my horror she says yes and then as I heroically scramble about and search for the kettle among all the newspapers, cardboard boxes, crates and suitcases, the removal men turn up and it’s all systems go, but she’s still there. Still wanting tea. Running from Kitchen to drawing room I manage to oversee a semblance of packing and at the same time carry out teatime inanities.It is such a relief when she leaves I don’t notice that the removal men have completed the packing without me and suddenly the house is empty - everything is gone.
The relief is huge – then I remember that they don’t have a key for Rookyard and where the hell are the cats? Packed!