6 lessons in 6 weeks


Lesson 1 - To be human is to be analogue. I’ve just moved home and as a result, I’m with Aleks Krotoski in rejecting the notion that we are all digital now. Moving demonstrates the sheer physicality of mass (all my university dissertations vs all my vinyl - neither set has any use but both are agony to part with). It goes on to illustrate the unforgiving nature of solidity (and the most boring game show premise ever: Fit these twelve irregularly-shaped items into this cubic cardboard void…Go!). It ends with picking shreds of packing tape from your teeth (even the most sophisticated planner goes cavewoman when the dispenser gun breaks).

Lesson 2 - Every new acquisition should be essential (for either its beauty or function). Having downsized to a small pile of assets - one third of everything - I am tortured by the charity shop window which is currently dedicated to me. My hats, jewellery, clothes and shoes are there for everyone to see, and I look in, feeling naked. I tell myself that I am not the sum total of my stuff, that there is a wonderful life ahead which can involve new stuff. But after this painful process of elimination, I also feel that I cannot bear to acquire anything ever again. A bonus is that this will save the lives of several penguins.

Lesson 3 - Develop some conflict skills before you move. Does anyone run a course on Being Cross With Many People Over A Short Space Of Time Without Losing Your Long-Term Ability To Be Nice? If not, I should devise one. When a whole string of professionals lets you down (landlord, developer, builder, tradesman, broadband provider, floorer, plumber) you need to be tough to get what you want from them. But not so tough that you get yourself meanlisted by the business. I have recently screamed the air blue so many times that I’ve run out of obscenities and started using Beano-style insults like stinking and fathead. This is guaranteed to mark you out as eccentric rather than badass, and you will remain a valued customer.

Lesson 4 - Guilt can be more painful than pain. When the movers start looking tired and tetchy, you are entitled to open a bottle of prosecco and enjoy the ease that you paid for. My previous moves have always involved white van hire and a lot of my own heavy breathing as I struggled to shift the goods. This time, wimping out on osteoarthritis, I decided to buy into the luxury of professional movers. But the docker’s daughter in me couldn’t bear to watch those men in branded polo shirts stagger up and down 21 steps and through three fire doors carrying boxes of tat on my behalf. The physical repercussions which followed several hours of labouring between truck and flat were still preferable to the mounting shame of standing by, pretending to look like a carefree character in a mortgage commercial.

Lesson 5 - There’s always a diet book in it. I lost half a stone in a week due to worry, nausea and lifting heavy objects. And somebody noticed! My 79-year old friend and I were scouted for a jeans ad campaign amid the World Cup semi-final mayhem at Stratford Westfield. As she’s just done a Vogue Italia shoot, this was no big deal for her. Me, I didn’t have the balls to go for the casting but I appreciated being asked.

Lesson 6 - Take your décor ideas from a TV drama which evokes joy. It was only the colour palette differences between the red-gold of Versailles and the blue-green of Gilead which alerted me to the fact that I was watching two different shows during the move week. Both locations have the same kind of sumptuousness and glow-worm lighting that inspires mood boards and fabric swatches for new home-owners. Despite that one drama depicts the 1660s, and the other is more or less contemporary, it’s crushing to note that both worlds also share the same vicious sectarianism and misogyny. So it seems loathsome to be influenced by either.