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Thursday, 22 December 2011

Fourth Letter: Watching bats and counting wrinkles

Monday 19th of December

Hi *******

I pretty sure you’ve read the blogs by now, so your silence is as disturbing as it is rare. I’m going to run with the idea that you’re learning how to operate the laptop right now and fully intend to start your own blog in return. (Dreaming again)

Where was I, oh yeah, watching bats and counting wrinkles.  At 9am the next morning the removal company arrived, Sidney(an alias) knocked on the door of our first floor apartment, with my giant Yucca plant in his arms.

Alfie posing by the giant Yucca plant
‘Cuppa tea and a biscuit wouldn’t go a miss.’ Sidney said carrying the Yucca through to the living room. ‘Uses a lot of energy running up and down them stairs.’

I apologised for the lack of biscuits and hastily set of to find a supermarket. The next few hours were spent in a blur of packing boxes, tea making and jokes about broken furniture and my ability to put together an Argos desk. (Speaking from experience, its IKEA all the way now) Sidney and his mate, both over a decade older than us,  with what can only be described as superhuman gusto and regular cuppa stops finished before lunch time, also it has to be said, the speed of the removal was helped by the fact we’d either sold or given away most of our furniture to fit in the house on the Isle of Wight.

‘Make us another cuppa while I pop in the shower.’ Says a red faced sodden Sidney.  I nodded mutely.(turning passive as a line of defence)   Andy’s face was priceless as Sidney locked the bathroom door and began humming the theme from Jaws under the running water. Bemused and still seeing bats I made yet more (8 rounds in total) cuppa’s and took them and the biscuits onto the balcony.  Andy and I exchanged muffled accusations while Sidney hummed his way through The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and a full tube of Links gel in our shower. I’m not sure how it works in most households but we’re a bit precious about our bathroom, this is our personal space where, pills, dyes, cartons of cellulite busting cream and the rest of requirements of our aging humanity are hidden.

‘Left your towels(notice the plural) in the bath.  You might want to think about giving them a wash.’ Said a fresh faced Sidney walking out onto the balcony.  Downing his final cuppa and popping a biscuit in his mouth.  ‘Right we’re off, gonna spend a couple of days in Amsterdam.’ He said winking and enveloping me in a bear hug.

 As we waved them off from the balcony, our last connection with the Isle of Wight drove away, I felt a little more confident  about our decision to move to the Netherlands, Andy however stared longingly at the disappearing beefy lorry and wondered aloud if he’d be able to do a job like that. I pretended not to hear.

The white goods were delivered an hour later by two seriously tall Dutch lads (I was beginning to feel petite), who with bizarre Netherland efficiency  unpacked and fitted our new fridge, washing machine etc.. Then to our great surprise took away the cardboard, I was beginning to warm to Dutch customer service.

 Our meagre(klein in Dutch) furnishing looked doll like in the vast expanse of our new apartment, I felt the pull of IKEA.  Andy however, felt the pull of the drill, he needed to hang his crocodile sized speaker on the wall.(never understood why this was a priority, but I’ve learnt not to ask questions where Andy’s technology’s involved) Now this drill is not just any ordinary drill but his super powered, will muscle its way through any substance drill.

Alfie retreating under the table
 ‘Won’t take a minute.’ He says reverently removing the drill from its case. Forty minutes later the wall had been measured and pencil marked within an inch of its life. I felt the dull thud of my heart that always accompanies the drill as Andy plugged in the extension cable and forced the first of many drill bit’s into the wall. The noise was deafening , not only deafening but on some primitive level terrifying too. Another forty minute passed and unable to stand the noise or watch the beads of perspiration on Andy’s face , I retreated to the kitchen and hid under the table with Alfie.

We appreciate now, that the outside walls are concrete (to match the floor) and nobody, really nobody drills into the outside walls in the Nederlands.

We’re learning to appreciate many things about the Nederlands, mainly that it never works as expected: there are not enough light sockets in the apartment, the people drive on the wrong side, dentists and doctors close for lunch and coffee breaks, bicycles rule the roads and strangest of all the Dutch say what they mean. I may, in time learn to integrate with the Dutch but after a lifetime of half-truths and hidden meanings I doubt  I’ll ever be able to say what I mean.

Alfie still under the table forty minutes later

Okay, it’s almost Christmas and I doubt we’ll manage to meet up. So from the Nederlands I want to wish you and your family a very merry Christmas.
Please click on the following link or copy and paste to your browser to receive our Christmas greeting:

Trace x
Btw, It was another half-truth about the bathroom contents, I don’t own cellulite busting cream.

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