Do you have to be so nice to me?

I think I may have mentioned that I’ve decided to move house this year. I have moved house solo several times before and, although I found it stressful, part of me really enjoyed it. I get bored, you see. I have this capacity – what would you call it? – to plan, in detail. I used to enjoy making lists and flow-diagrams, getting the calculator out, fitting the whole horrendous procedure together like a jigsaw. I suppose it’s the flipside of being a worrier.

But this time is different. This time I have to move, and it will probably be to a smaller house. Downsizing is never easy, is it? You get used to having three bedrooms and then there’s the prospect of two – or one – and maybe not in the area you would have chosen, and maybe… Now I’m older, and that does make a difference. You wonder where the energy went, for all that extra housework, for all the smiles and the greetings and the bulging legal packs that have to be gone through, and the twenty-page questionnaires you have to fill in concerning boundaries, cavity wall insulation, and the  boiler. Do I really want the hassle of that again? One day at a time.

One day at a time is what I tell my sister on the phone, as my brother-in-law struggles with cancer. One day at a time is what I tell myself, when my mother refuses to use her commode or offers her carer soap-powder tablets as if they are chocolates. One day at a time is excellent advice in approaching any trying situation. But easier said than done. Too many other things going on, that’s the problem.

And then there’s the cats. Last time there were five, I think. I fitted the two oldest and sickest ones into my little car and booked the others in a cattery overnight. Now there are thirteen. One of the things I have to do is some discreet cat-box-juggling. I say discreet because the neighbours here – although rarely to be glimpsed – glimpse everything. They probably already know my intentions, since a pair of estate agents turned up yesterday. The man had the tell-tale clipboard – ie estate agent of Jehovah’s Witness – and the girl had a snazzy black suit (not so snazzy by the time she had sat on my sofa for half an hour and picked up a film of cat-fur) and the highest-heeled patent-leather shoes I have ever seen. “So you’ll not be wanting to look round the garden?” I heard myself enquiring. It’s just a mass of squelchy grass this time of year. She’d have sunk without trace.

The cat-box juggling – well, I’ve got a garage full of pet-carriers in various sizes. Some are big enough for Alsatian dogs, others so bijou I don’t feel happy confining one of my Beloveds to them, except in an emergency. Moving day may well be such an emergency. I think, with a bit of juggling, I can fit six pet-carriers into the car, with the back seats down. But I need to practice, and as soon as I start practicing one of the normally-invisible neighbours is almost bound to appear, delicately skirting rubble-filled potholes and muddy puddles, off on some sudden and mysterious ‘walk’. Just off to the shop to get a cabbage. Just taking Big Puppy for a walk. How are your cats? Oh, I see you are juggling cat-boxes… Anything you want to tell me? Go on, grant me an exclusive…

The idea is that I would take six with me on moving day, assuming none have died in the interim (two are very old), and put the other seven in the cattery. This will be expensive. It will also involve getting them all vaccinated – twice. Fourteen injections will be even more expensive than one night for seven in the cattery, I suspect.

And this afternoon at 2 o’clock I have another estate agent. I just dread them; dread all ‘incomers’ to tell the truth. This is my hidey-hole, my sanctuary. I’ve met him once – he seemed really nice, all smiley. And I need an estate agent: they are so good at what I’m so bad at – selling. I suppose that’s it – it’s the fact that they are nice to me. It’s so easy to be persuaded that you have made a New Best Friend, even though you know that as soon as you’ve safely signed on the dotted line of the Agency Agreement you will be passed on to an eighteen year old trainee back at the office and never hear from your New Best Friend again. I’m allergic to salesmen, and yet… if only they really liked me.


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