Tuesday, 20 December 2011

We've got to move

The removal man came around yesterday for an estimate. As we're close we'll try and do some of it ourselves, with a little help from our friends, but it's going to be much easier to leave the big stuff to the professionals. Like many things in Japan there is a well-developed system for moving that will run smoothly and painlessly. The man was young and polite, wearing a suit and tie and holding a clipboard and calculator. He went around the house looking at what we've got and then totted it up on his check sheet. He gave us a 40-page A4 brochure that is both a showcase of their service, with reassuring pictures of their smiling, uniformed staff, shoes off and socks clean, and a manual for the mover. On the back it says "We care you", but I don't want to point out their omission. Prepositions have nothing to do with moving house. 

When he left he gave us fifty boxes. Small ones for heavy things and big ones for light things. They have special boxes for wardrobes with hangers in, but we'll do the clothes ourselves and don't need any of those. Each box has a label where you can write the contents, and circle where the box is coming from in the old house and where it is going to in the new house, not just the floor and the room, but which part of the room. There is red tape to put on boxes of fragile things, and yellow tape for others. In the booklet there is a page of numbered and coloured stickers to put on the video and stereo cables and sockets, and presumably they will put everything in place and plug it in for you if you ask nicely. 

After a few minutes going through the checksheet with his calculator, we came to the negotiation. He said we'd get away with a short two-ton truck for just taking the essential big things--the fridge, washing machine, desks, table and chairs. If we wanted to get everything in one truck we'd need a four tonner. We decided on a three-ton truck, and will start first thing in the morning moving stuff ourselves, and may well have some left over until the following day.

It's not that any of us are particularly acquisitive, but we've accumulated a fair amount of crap over the past eleven years living in this house. Now's the chance to look through and get rid of what we don't need, but also we're not very good at throwing things out. Maybe that's part of not being acquisitive. With clothes I partly blame it on being a second child with a close older brother, and only ever getting hand-me-downs. The only time I can remember getting new clothes is when we were all dressed up in the same outfits. Perhaps it's the other way round, and the cause is my own sartorial ambivalence, but I'm not interested in clothes and don't like to wear new things, and feel obliged to keep everything. 

This may also be inherited from parents who were brought up during the war and rationing, when everything was precious and valuable and needed looking after. In these times of profligate consumerism, mountains of garbage and energy crises, it's difficult to argue with respecting anything for the intrinsic value of its resources and the time and energy that have gone into making it and bringing into your home.

And perhaps my Yorkshire roots have something to do with this. I'll not say that people from Yorkshire are mean, but they have a word, "thoil", that means to be able to financially afford something but not able to justify spending money on it. So it's going to be a busy week as I can neither thoil getting all our stuff moved by the professionals, nor throwing out anything that there's even a slim chance we'll use some time.