I expected to be writing this surrounded by the destroyed remains of my every possession. I thought that my removal men would have reduced all that I own to its constituent molecules. I was sure that they would have thoroughly smashed all of my things and what they didn't lose on the trip from my last place, they would have accidentally set on fire .
None of that happened. Much to my amazement, and despite me looking REALLY hard for any signs of destruction, it seems that absolutely everything that the removal men were given charge of has arrived in the same condition that it was before they set about moving it.
There were some things that needed my personal attention, however - that which was not coming with me. The danger of living in a place with huge cupboard space is that you will fill those cupboards with things that no-one could ever want but you can't be bothered to throw away. There were piles of it. Furniture I don't even remember owning, machines that record sound in formats that now don't exist and no end of things that were broken and tired and useless.
All this stuff was not going to follow me around like toilet paper stuck on my shoes, so it had to go, and I had to join the ranks of The White Van Men.
I always give such vehicles a swerve, as they are probably in much more of a hurry than me and they most likely care less about their vehicle getting scratched and dented than I do. Becoming one of them was rather...what's the word?...masculating. As in the opposite of "emasculating".
Once I had reacquainted myself with the tedium of manual gear changes, and managed to set off from the lights without stalling the engine, it got to be rather fun bombing about at the height of an elephant's eye and commanding the road like the Mad Max of Wandsworth.
Best of all was the ridding of the stuff. When you have a very great deal of junk to dispose of, you enter the part of the Municipal Waste Disappearing Facility that is reserved for the rubbish trucks and commercial disposal lorries. It is unlike the airy, light and clean-ish area that is normally accessible to the public for the dumping of garden waste and unwanted knick-knacks. Entering this vast dark and cacophonous cavern was like driving into the belly of Hell.
Through the Stygian gloom, trucks beeped and flashed and disgorged their contents with a great clanging and crashing and ton after ton of unwanted detritus would vanish down huge shoots to go...I have no idea where. Straight to Mordor, it seemed.
These giant transporters of stuff that humankind wanted rid of rather made my van seem puny and out of place. Some of that masculation was lost, even though I was required to sport that signifier of a person who gets their hands dirty - a vest of such violent luminosity that you could have seen me from the Space Station. But the feeling of backing up to an enormous hole and throwing the old stuff down it was immensely liberating. I recommend it. It should be available on the NHS. It's like giving your life an enema.
For the things I wanted to keep, I needed to get some men in. I had an idea in mind how much it would cost. I was out by a factor of three. The officials who came from the removal companies that I invited to give quotes were all English. They paced around making precise notes about what was to be moved and gave estimates of the price that seemed to be about the same amount as it would cost to buy everything new. That was the last time I saw any locally bred workers. Those that did the actual lifting were, to a man, Lithuanian.
I opted for the full packing option, where-in three Eastern Europeans arrived and wrapped everything I owned individually as though I had just bought them from Harrods. Over three days they placed it with surprising care into sturdy boxes and loaded it all onto a lorry the size of Clapham, then squeezed it into the new flat with no ill effects to any of it whatsoever.
Those men were packing, wrapping, lifting, carrying machines, and they did it with great good humour and speed. If I left anything outside the designated area for things I needed to keep unpacked, they wrapped it and spirited it away before I could realise my mistake. If I had dwelt too long in the same place, they would probably have wrapped and packed me.
They were hulking great removal fairies that seemed to work like magic, which meant I sailed through the entire experience in a state of surprising serenity.
This mood was helped by what I was doing while they were toiling away: shredding. My plucky little shredding machine outdid itself. In bold letters on the outside it states that under no circumstances should the machine be operated for longer than three minutes before being given a 40 minute rest. I am not making that up. I had it going constantly for hours.
I had thought that chucking my unwanted stuff down the council's pit of doom was therapeutic. That had nothing on this. Accounts and receipts and invoices and financial statements that had been trailing me around for decades all met their end in a blizzard of tiny paper pieces. The process of putting in page after page and having it turn to snow was better than hypnosis. I was practically in a trance and remained blissfully unaware of the frenetic packing action that was taking place all around me.
Lithuania is a place that has not troubled my thoughts until now. Apart from a vague resemblance to the sound of the home of Dracula, I knew nothing about it at all. I still don't, apart from one thing: if you want to throw huge amounts of your own stuff away, do it yourself - there is little else that is so satisfying. If, however, you want your worldly possessions transported from one place to another and to have them arrive fine and on time, if you want to negotiate the third most stressful personal experience and come away with all your hair still intact and your life expectancy undiminished, get yourself a reliable paper shredder and a team of Lithuanians.