One job off the list

467621759With Halloween round the corner I have realised I need to tackle a thorny issue I’ve been putting off for months – namely the fortune I am pouring away every month renting two storage units containing the remaining contents of my late parents’ house. The storage units are near the old house in Norfolk, a three and a half hour drive away and not somewhere I wanted to be rootling around in the cold, especially when it would soon be getting dark at 4pm. If I didn’t tackle it now I would be still coughing up money for a licence to hoard until next spring.

First, I needed wheels – so I booked my trusty Zipcar – a bargain at £6 an hour. I also needed someone to keep me on track and stop me spending the entire day leafing through old photos and letters while the boxes continued to pile up. This was a job for Liz, a girl so ruthlessly tidy she makes Monica from friends look like Albert Steptoe. So we were up and out at the crack of 11am and I trotted off to collect the car from the next street, armed with my magic Zipcar card, which I only have to hold on the windscreen to open up the car. I stepped in only to discover that the car I’d rented for the day not only had no handbrake (on purpose!), but it was an automatic. It took me ten minutes to get up the nerve to start the ignition (and another ten to figure out how – you put your foot on the brake – obviously…) and jerked precariously round to our house to load up with boxes like a five-year-old on her first dodgem.

Fortunately Liz had had a very late night the previous evening and spent most of the journey dozing behind her sunglasses, so was shielded from the worst of my driving. (Her vehicle of choice is a Jag and she finds my driving painful at the best of times – she thought it would get better once I started wearing my glasses. She was sorely disappointed. Anyway we made it to Norfolk in one piece and stopped off at my favourite charity shop to deposit the jumble I’d liberated from home to make way for the old jumble. It include a box of toy cars, which the new girl behind the counter, a dead ringer for Ugly Betty, but even prettier and without the braces pounced on in delight. “Sweet!” she trilled, unpacking the tiny cars one by one. “This is a car!” she chirruped picking up one of the bigger ones. “Yeah, I think they’re all cars,” I said, slightly anxiously picking up my empty crate and heading back to the car, without stopping to try on the Gucci slingbacks tempting me from the newly installed designer case…

We got to the storage just in time to be told they were officially closed but as it was us we could stay as long as we liked – as long as we locked up after ourselves ­– and, if the gate was locked, climb over the wall and get someone to let us out from the house. “There should be someone in – if not you’ll be there for the night!” Just the incentive we needed – in the three hours we were there we loaded another car full of jumble and packed up the two chairs and table we had come down to collect. That gave us enough room to pile everything into one shed – a net monthly saving of £80 – hurray! Just enough to pay for the car for the weekend!

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