A Moving Story

a short story by Graham Pockett © copyright 1994

All characters in this story are fictitious; and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Now I am just an ordinary guy. Standard brew: wife and 2.26 children; two cars with a single-car garage; food bill big enough to settle the national debt; hire-purchase on the youngest's dentist bill; macho image (well, actually forty plus with a grey-thatched roof); and my own trailer. The last of which makes me very popular with both close friends and vague acquaintances who have to move house.

Because of this I've considered myself somewhat of an expert in moving. That is, until I had to move myself…

Now anyone who thinks that moving house is simply doing a tortoise and humping your goods and chattels to a new location is just whistling into the wind. Let me give you the good oil now. Moving house is akin to self mutilation – if you like pain you'll survive.

It all began when The Wife decided that, while she liked to live with my sainted mother, maybe, just maybe, it would be fun to actually have our own house.

Now immediately I understood that it was her desire to have her very own kitchen that drove her to this totally unrealistic request. Woman's hormones, you know.

What I couldn't understand was her rejection of my brilliant idea to build a separate kitchen in the backyard. No big deal to wander into the house every now and then to use the sink.

I mean, she'd have her very own stove! What more could she want?

Women, I'll never understand them. She insisted, insisted mind you, that she would settle for nothing less than her own home on her own block of land.

As I dearly love my wife I could do no less than accept her ridiculous demand – er, reasonable request.

Now I can't understand The Wife. She seemed to have a thing about all the potential homes I picked out. Now I ask you, what's wrong with a house with its own granny flat? In ten or 12 years our children will need somewhere quiet to study, and in the meantime we could have a built-in baby sitter… My mother wouldn't even ask to be paid – well, not much anyway.

Finally, she… er, we decided on a four bedroom house in a quiet back street. Well, it would have been quiet if the trucks hadn't used the street as a bypass. It was certainly quiet when we saw it on the weekend.

We made an offer on the house – the owner responded by laughing. The agent just wanted his commission.

We finally decided on a price that was slightly nearer to the owner's original asking price.

Quite a bit nearer.

I went down cap in hand to see the bank manager about a small loan. The loan we got was certainly small – but not the repayments.

But the agent got his commission.

We exchanged contracts. Well actually the solicitors got together, had a coffee and a good laugh at our expense (literally) and exchanged contracts. Sometime in the process they added a few more noughts to the bill. I suppose someone had to pay for the coffee and cake…

We called in all the favours from people who had used my trailer (and me) to move house in the past.

Surprising just how busy some people can be!

The Weather Bureau's forecast for moving day was bright and sunny – and it would have been if it hadn't rained.

I tied down that first load on the trailer extra well. It was our best furniture so we didn't want anything damaged in the six miles (metric miles, of course) between 'Mum's Haven' and 'Our Folly'. Mum does like to name things.

It was a mistake to take our best furniture in the first load…

Irrespective of what my hormone-prone darling wife said, the rope wouldn't have broken if the trailer wheel hadn't come off.

Anyway, I was stuck in the middle of the freeway with a trailer load of our best furniture spread out across the road. I just knew The Wife would be somewhat annoyed.

Finally the rescue crew arrived and we sorted out the mess. There was basically nothing wrong with the trailer except a slight shortage of wheel nuts. One side didn't have any. I would have thought of taking two nuts off the other side and using them to put back the errant wheel. Really I would – in time.

I loaded the kindling back onto the trailer – I just knew The Wife was going to make a fuss about the wardrobe her Aunt Gertrude had given us for a wedding present – and reflected that we still have the matching bedhead and vanity unit. I wonder if I could get away with a similar accident on the second trip…

There were a few relatively undamaged items which survived the trailer accident so I continued to our new home to drop them off. The smashed wardrobe could be used to test the fireplace in our new home – a distinctive feature which was a big buying point for us. Ahh, to settle back on a wintry night and enjoy a fire crackling in the hearth. Bliss.

I'd also better mention that while the wardrobe was the only major casualty of the freeway accident, our new queen-size mattress had also been in that load. The salesman who sold it to us was quite right. You probably could drive a steam engine over it without the mattress being damaged. However, he didn't mention that if a truck drove over it on a wet freeway you could end up with a perfect tyre print being left on the fabric.

I arrived at the house to find out two things. The chap I had organised to be at the home to help me to unload was not there. Possibly he had been but had departed after the two hour delay. The second problem was that there wasn't any electrical power on at the house.

It wasn't my fault that The Wife forgot to organise the electricity for the new home. I distinctly remember her saying she would get the gas and telephone connected – I just don't remember her saying I should organise the electrical power! Besides, it's woman's work to look after that type of detail.

The day was not really going all that well.

The key did fit the front door, which was decided plus – and the roof didn't leak, another plus.

The rain by time had done from a gently drizzle to a full blown gale. Someone had forgotten to close the west-facing window in the master bedroom and the carpet in that room had gone from soggy, to furry, and then back to soggy again.

Looked like we'd have to sleep in the spare room until an insurance assessor looked over the mess.

Insurance? Of course The Wife would have organised the insurance – wouldn't she?

I mentally shrugged my shoulders and put it into the 'it's your problem, darling' file. The Wife is very capable, she'll sort it out later. Whether or not we had a cover note on the new house, be assured the insurance company will pay, and pay, and pay. The Wife can be very insistent – boy can she be insistent.

I sloshed across the wet carpet to close the window – it's an ill wind that doesn't close the stable door after the rain gets in, I suppose – and found that the wood had swelled from the rain and the window couldn't be closed. Looked like we'd need a carpenter as well as a carpet layer.

Everything in the trailer was now saturated but it had to come inside. Luckily the largest item, the wardrobe, was now easily handled by one person and I'm sure any drag marks on the new queen-size mattress could be put down to the freeway accident. The do-it-yourself wardrobe I put in the fireplace to test the draw of the chimney but the wood was so wet it just lay there smouldering. I'd get some more paper and really try it out on the next trip.

Soon I had the trailer unloaded and was just getting into the car when the telephone started ringing. Trust The Wife to remember to have the phone connected and forget the electricity.

Of course, it stopped ringing two seconds after I finally found our new front door key and opened the door. I mentally elevated a finger at the phone and, like a drowned rat, went back to the car. The heater would just about dry me out by the time I got back to 'Mum's Haven'.

When I did get there, I found The Wife and our two darling little children had left some ten minutes earlier for the new house. Apparently they'd thought something was wrong because I'd taken so long. Isn't it strange that if you're five minutes late somewhere women always assume there's something wrong? It's their hormones I think.

I made a few phone calls and, with the bribe of unlimited beer, was able to solicit help from some friends The Wife refers to as 'those boozy b's'.

As it turned out, all they wanted to do was drink my beer and make suggestions from the comfort of mum's lounge room (the heater was in there). Still, it was nice of them to come over and help us move.

A nice warm cup of tea, a change of clothes, and again I was ready for action. Mum was terrific and didn't once refer to the new house as 'Our Folly'. Things were starting to look up…

I was a little worried The Wife hadn't called from the new house. I would have given her a call but, in typical female fashion, had taken the new phone number with her. Still, it wouldn't take long to reload and return to the new house.

By hiding the remaining beer in the boot of the car, my erstwhile companions drunkenly helped me load the trailer. The scratch down the side of the antique chest of drawers wouldn't be noticed if we kept that side towards a wall. It wasn't my fault but I knew I'd get blamed.

The trip to the new house was, as expected, totally uneventful. The rain had ceased and there was every chance that, given enough time, the sun would come out and vindicate the weather forecast. Things were looking up.

With the promise of more beer, my mates came over with me to help unload. In no time we'd be back for our third load.

That is, until we turned the last corner and were confronted by two fire engines and a spaghetti tangle of fire hoses on the ground – all heading towards our new home!

Standing among the growing crowd of gawkers was The Wife and our two lovely brats.

Now The Wife is totally wrong. I wasn't trying to get rid of the evidence by burning the wardrobe – just testing out the fireplace. I thought the fire was out before I left but I guess it kept on smouldering and, because the chimney didn't draw properly, the lounge room apparently filled with smoke.

Some interfering old busybody saw the smoke through the curtains, jumped to the totally wrong conclusion, and called the fire brigade.

Did you know that the fire brigade doesn't even employ people to pick locks on burning houses when there's no-one home? With all the finesse of a bull in a china shop they smashed in the front door and proceeded to pour thousands of gallons (like the miles, they're metric gallons) of water into our lovely lounge room.

I guess when the carpenter and carpet layer come to fix the master bedroom, they'll get a bit more work in the lounge room and at the front door.

Then The Wife started crying. Trust a woman to break down when a couple of things don't go exactly as planned. It's their hormones, you know – either that or post menstrual tyranny.

My mates found the beer in the boot of the car and went over to share a can with the smokies. I didn't mind that, but I did find it unnerving when they looked over at me and broke down laughing. Someone was telling jokes, I suppose.

In view of the damage caused by the fire brigade, we can't move into our new home for a couple of months.

My mother gave me one of those 'I told you so' looks but I really couldn't see just where anything was my fault.

While we're waiting for the work to get done, the new house looks a little strange with the metal shuttering over the front door and master bedroom window. At least it should keep out any more rain…

Life at mum's is a little tense at present but I guess that will resolve itself in time. Let's face it, we won't be here that much longer.

I must remember to get some more wheel nuts for the trailer before we move again – unless I put the rest of Aunt Gertrude's bedroom furniture on the trailer's first load…

Now who can I organise to give me a hand next time?

Author's Note:

"A Moving Story" was originally written in the mid-80s to be part of a book about the antics of the world's greatest loser. I must give credit to an ancient radio serial, Life With Dexter, for the original idea. I wrote a couple of other stories for the book and the second one, The Vegie Patch is now on-line.

This story was modified in 1994 when I was doing a short story writing course and, again, in 2004 when I posted it on-line. The only changes made in 2004 were the removal of some Australian slang terms which may not be understood by everyone.

Graham Pockett

This story is copyright © and may not be used without my written permission.


Graham’s Christian writing:
"Graham Pockett doesn't mince any words, but he writes with a kind heart. If you have questions about such things as "once saved, always saved", or why so many different ideas can come from the same scripture, or how much what we see and do affects us as spiritual beings, you'll find much to think about here."  from This Christian Life
Graham Pockett
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    Last Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2019