Twisting the day away
No matter how well you plan a house and office move, your removal from the command position will scupper all your plans, and leave you playing three-dimensional Twister for weeks.
Picture the scene. The van is being unloaded and five men are stumping up and down the ten steps in turn, all bearing heavy boxes.
‘Where to, love?’
‘Upstairs. No! Sorry, kitchen.’
‘Back left bedroom’
‘Sorry, that’s for the shed, top of the garden’.
And so on.
When the kitchen is full of boxes, I can bear it no longer and throw myself at them, unpacking feverishly, trying to diminish the oncoming tide of crockery and glassware by getting them into cupboards in any and no order at all. Handheld Press’s other half abandons his shed-cramming operations, and takes over front-of-house triage.
‘Oh god, not more books. Office.’
We had agreed that the office would be packed with the heavy furniture while waiting for the two other rooms on the ground floor to have their floors finished (end of May, if we’re lucky). Boxes of books are carefully stacked around the large table, the piano, the vitrine, the holly cabinet and two sofas. Later that night, as I slump exhausted into bed, I wonder vaguely where my office things have gone. I had intended them to keep them safe upstairs in the temporary Handheld office, otherwise called daughter 2’s bedroom (not needed till she gets back from her language year in August). But they’re not there. I don’t know where any of them are.
The next day, I have several book orders I need to send out urgently, and I must find these books. I clamber behind the piano and return triumphant with the right books in the right quantities. Then I go back in and wriggle underneath the legs of an oak coffee table that hurt quite a lot when they get you in the ribs, and behind the dining table. I find the box of bookmarks and (planning ahead) bring the box back with me. On the way in I had noticed where the roll of packing paper was stacked, and return to crawl underneath more wooden furniture and haul it out and break a fingernail. Next mission: the box of tape, address labels, compliment slips and Handheld catalogues, discovered underneath the enormous and enormously heavy green plastic-wrapped bundle of sofa cushions. To get to this I was actually climbing over the top of boxes, hoping that none were full of glass. I developed new shuffle, stretch and lunge techniques to get past the outstretched table legs. I am playing Twister against the furniture, and feel sure that passing drivers will see me through the window, silhouetted against chair legs and stacked boxes, and I still haven’t found the roll of tissue paper. Eventually, I find it in the bath. I package my books, and go to meet my new post office. Handheld Press has arrived in its new home, rather dishevelled, but triumphant.
Causing havoc in the book chain
Due to The Move I got all behind with the next Handheld Press book to come out, The Conscientious Objector’s Wife. I did manage to get the text into production, and the index is almost finished, so it will be printed in good time. But I’ve had second thoughts about whether it should be hardback or paperback. I worried about this while watching the van filling up, and swithered about it while unpacking, and went round and round in circles about it while we built sheds and worked out where the ironing board should live. Today I consulted my book chain associates, the men who deal directly with the bookshops, and caused havoc and consternation, because this is not the way things usually happen. (I am not the way publishers usually happen either.) I have 12 hours to make a decision, and set a new price, which is contingent on a revised printing estimate, so watch this space.