Friday, May 19, 2006


I'm completely shattered. I got back from my bruv's wedding on Sunday and had to start preparing to move house 3 days later - boxes of papers to sort through, crap to chuck out, bags to pack and so on. I hired a car and moved house on Wednesday with much help from the girlfriend (who turns out to be rather good at disassembling MFI tables and computer stands). Moving the stuff took all day. On Thursday I had to clean out the car before returning it to Sixt Kenning and then went back to the old house to clean it out properly before handing it back to the landlord. It took 12 hrs of vacuuming, bin bag filling, shelf clearing and kitchen and bathroom cleaning before I finally left the house. I've spent most of today re-assembling bookshelves and tables and sorting out my new room in my new house. I feel completely drained.

Clearing out the old house yesterday was the worst job. It was a shared house and I had the misfortune of being the last tenant left there - so the task of cleaning the place up fell to me. I thought it would take 3 or 4 hours, but I was there from 10.30 am to 10.30 pm. I must have filled over 15 bin bags with assorted junk and left-overs (not very environmentally sound I know). A few of these bags were filled with old print outs, papers and old notes and so on - I'm a compulsive hoarder when it comes to paper for some reason. Many of them, however, were filled with mouldering junk from the shed and ancient food, jars and bottles in the kitchen - most of which was not mine. I found many unspeakable things in dark cupboards, on top of high shelves and dumped in boxes. I came across at least 2 huge spiders. If I said that they were as big as a man's hand I'd be exaggerating - but only a little. They were as big as a small man's, or large child's, hand. I scraped and scrubbed two fridges (jam and pesto stains mostly), vacuumed beneath beds and sofas (found many things - some interesting, some strange, some disgusting), gathered very old barbeque rubbish from the back yard (unpleasant) and made 2 toilets safe for human use again. I cleaned and vacuumed a rather filthy and litter strewn bedroom floor (not mine) and even cleaned dirt marks off the walls there. I chucked out at least 10 bottles of aftershave from a bathroom cupboard (made the rubbish smell nice for the neighbours). At least I ended the day £1.50 up, after picking up all the lost coins from under sofas and beds. Most of these coins were coppers or 5ps - the ones you can't be bothered to stoop down to pick up when you drop them on the floor. Still £1.50 is £1.50. Well worth it I thought. Plus, we might even get our deposit back now.

It was dark by the time I had finished. It's a very strange feeling, when you are alone in a more or less empty house where you have lived for a while and which you are about to leave. The house feels both familiar and terribly strange. You recognise it, of course - you know the layout of the rooms, you know the carpets and the windows and so on - but it doesn't feel quite like your home anymore. It's a rather disconcerting experience. The place feels haunted too. You remember it as an inhabited and homely place full of familiar possessions and comforts, and so to see it empty feels very wrong somehow. An empty, familiar house is also a desperately lonely place. I didn't like being there any longer than I had to be - especially as it was dark by the time I was almost ready to leave. I actually felt highly uncomfortable when I checked each room for the last time, switching off the lights. The house simply felt wrong - a little threatening even. I had a shower just before I left (since I was covered in cleaning muck) and whilst I was drying myself off and dressing in my old and now empty room I felt a dreadful sense of anxiety. It seemed to me that the house was now an unfriendly place and that I had to get out of it as soon as possible. Completely irrational of course, but it was a very powerful feeling. It's difficult to explain, though I'm sure I'm not the only one to have experienced such a thing.

I was told that there is a romantic story, somewhere, which asserts that empty and uninhabited houses cry. They are meant for human inhabitation and so they pine for their inhabitants when abandoned. I suppose it goes without saying that it is probably best not to ascribe human attributes to inanimate objects - it is fetishism after all, which we all know is generally a bad thing. However, I think that the odd bit of anthropomorphism every now and again can't hurt. In fact, like all good metaphors, a good anthropomorphic description can sometimes help to convey real human experiences more effectively than a straight forward account. The idea of empty houses crying really strikes a chord with me - empty houses are sorrowful places. I felt quite down leaving the house for the last time. However, I went straight to the supermarket on my way back to my new home and got a 2 ltr bottle of cheapo cider (well, I was £1.50 up). Soon felt better. Cider makes everything better.

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