I’d sat in the car for about fifteen minutes, whilst Dad chatted to the man in the car park. I am supposed to be moving house today, and Dad had once again borrowed Ron’s van to move my stuff – there was a few more bits and pieces in the back than last time. Its all just sitting there waiting to be moved. Dad got out to check if the garage key worked and he hasn’t been back since. He’s just standing in the car park chatting to a leathery looking bloke in shorts.
I just wanted to move in now, I mean I could just get out the van and open the door to the flat – and in fact I don’t know why I am not doing just that, oh yeah, Dad has the keys.
Eventually he comes back and tells me that was “Ken”, from now on known as ‘Leathery Ken’ and that he went “To school with him” and that he was “The Caretaker here”. He then proceeds to tell me this
“Of course, Ken went to live in Portugal when he was 18, his parents were something to do with time shares, which were all the rage in the late 60s. I think however, that his parents got caught defrauding thousands of people and served fifteen years or something, Ken married a go go dancer from the Algarve and to be honest with you I thought he was dead. Obviously not. He’s alright Ken, bit of an old perv, but you’ll be ok.”
Nice. Thanks Dad.
Then he laughed, “ We used to flush his head down toilet at school – happy times, come on let’s get the kettle on”.
Even nicer, but then a thought struck me Shit, I don’t have a kettle. Sensing my fear, Dad goes
“Your mum bought you one” he suddenly said, reaching behind his seat and pulling out a box of stuff that I hadn’t noticed for the entire twenty minutes of the journey and the fifteen further minutes that I had been sitting perfectly still looking at the driver’s seat.
Three hours later, I have moved in. It looks a bit sparse, two chairs in a massive twenty foot lounge, a table and a few boxes, but “Its work in progress” as Dad says.
I have literally just finished unpacking the CDs and the books and plugging in the stereo. I am holding a Faithless CD in my hand which I’d chosen to be the first music to be played in my flat purely because I’d watched them on the telly last night on some programme.
The flat is great, it has double doors which open out on to the canal path – there is a crowd of ducks sitting across the canal on the bank and I have a little balcony area on which I can sit and watch the world go by.
My mum arrives, she has turned up in my car, and is carrying three presents.
One is a yucca plant – apparently according to her, they are lucky. I seem to remember she bought me one of these when I moved into my house in Bristol. I am sceptical of their luckiness. The second is a picture of my sister, my parents and me on holiday when I was seven – I am sitting on a wall in Rhyl looking massively pissed off. The reason for this that I fell off said wall about twenty minutes earlier and had a stupid looking Mr Bump plaster on my knee. However twenty five years later the picture makes me laugh. My Mum claims that even then it showed off my ‘human side’. In fact ever since that day I’ve thought that smiling was over rated.
The third one is a parcel.
“It’s from Alice” mum says, looking at me eagerly and expecting me to open it right now. Which I of course do.
It is four things, a blow up sofa, a bottle of tequila, a stupid straw hat with a donkey on it and an envelope. The envelope contains return tickets to Spain and a note. The notes reads “So, your mum told me that you’d got a new place. Knowing you, you won’t have any furniture so the sofa is for you to use – but be careful, if more than one person sits on it, it has a tendency to tip over, the second is for ‘entertaining purposes’, the third is for you to wear on the plane when you use the fourth thing.” I look at the tickets they are dated for next Saturday, with a return a week later.
I look at my mum, she so knew what it was, because she is grinning from ear to ear, like she has had eaten too much maple syrup. My dad pokes his head from around the kitchen door and shouts
“Don’t worry we’re not coming with you” – so he knew as well. He walks out carrying a tray with three cups and from somewhere, biscuits as well. As I sit there on the ‘good chair’ it suddenly dawns on me, I have never been on a plane on my own before. I suddenly feel proper grown up, I have also never lived on my own before, I have no idea how to change a plug or to put up a shelf (not that I can do this in this flat – but you know what I mean). But I realise that it doesn’t matter, Dad will come round and help if I need him – this is it, a new start, well a trip to Spain and then a new start, and a new sofa.
I pop the CD on the side, and we drink our tea. The tea tastes better than any cup I have ever had before. My dad usually makes lousy tea, but today for some reason it tasted perfect. Mum and Dad drink up and then they leave, mum promises to come back tomorrow with ‘one or two things’.
Fifteen minutes later I pick the CD up and pop it in the stereo – I crank up the volume to the level marked ‘annoyingly loud’, I put on the stupid hat, crack open the tequila, pour myself a large one and dance around the place like I just don’t care. Life feels good.