Moving house is what I imagine Purgatory to be like: a state of limbo in which one is forced only to imagine what blessings await, while suffering the torments of the damned – the damned sticky tape, the damned carboard boxes, the damned bin-bags of rubbish, the odd discovery that one has bought the same book perhaps four or five times, the wistful thought that there is no chance of my listening to all my music now, even if I tried.
I did two heroic things. One was to cut my reel-to-reel collection down by a colossal 75% on the basis that I now have its contents in at least three other formats. The really big achievement, which was like a huge weight being lifted from my shoulders, was to keep the DVD recorder running for five weeks, at the end of which, thirteen or so crates of video had been reduced to one small box of labelled discs. The two unheroic things I did were to hang on to my other 25% reel-to-reels, and also to keep a great deal of what I had spent years videotaping.
And I threw or gave away about 300 books.
And I ripped out my contributions to magazines and newspapers, and threw the actual copies away.
And I threw away almost all my music magazines.
No wonder there is so much space in the new house. It is quite eerie.
One of the removal men was a terrific man in his forties with a bright red Mohican, and a very unusual line in waggish irony (not normally a Devonian trait). He had a number of lines, but my favourite was his standard response to the same frequent request which was made of him by the others.
Other man: Could you give me a lift?
Wag: I’ve never seen you look as good as you do today.