When it’s time to move out, move in and move on

Both my babies have long since flown the nest but until now neither of them had fledged a mortgage.

While Ruth and Mark were renting, I still imagined they were living a footloose and fancy-free student-type lifestyle... even though neither of them has been fancy-free for some time.

Mark is married and living in Saffron Walden (too far away for me to interfere as much as I would like) and, until a couple of weeks back, Ruth was living with her friend, Katie, in a duplex apartment near the town centre. Now she has moved into her first mortgaged home with fianc� Kev.

And thank goodness for that.

Along with work, debt and relationship troubles, moving house is one of the most stressful things we do. I have been very stressed.

And it didn’t help that my buttocks were also stressed.

After the monsoon conditions of June, the garden urgently needed weeding. My husband was using the kneeler so I sat on a little stool that we normally use to stand on when reaching for top shelf books.

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Not, of course, the sort of top shelf books you find in stationers, the ones that give you palpitations after page six and start affecting your eyesight after page 24. Our top shelf is much less stimulating. It tends to be stacked with books I ought to have read but never quite got round to... ie Booker Prize-shortlisted novels.

Anyway, after eight hours sitting on the aforementioned preformed plastic stool my buttocks felt as if they’d been paddled by the massed bats of the Olympic gold-medal winning Chinese table tennis team. Or possibly the aliens in the Argos advert. Moreover, I leaned over to the back of a flowerbed to uproot a large dandelion and virtually impaled myself through the neck on a cane supporting Canterbury bells.

I was stressed and in pain.

Then Music Day on the park struck up and I was beset by quadraphonic sound; four different contemporary music genres in a titanic clash of chords.

I was stressed, in pain, and my ears were vibrating.

Ruth, who is normally a sunny, glass half-full person was also starting to show the strain.

She appeared on our doorstep one evening, three days before her move, and announced: “I’ve got so much packing to do I decided to come here instead.”

She completed the super-fiendish Su Doku triumphantly and then we settled down to watch Holby City. I know it’s only a drama but if I get sick I’d want Hugh Quarshie looking after me... if George Clooney wasn’t available.

“Are you excited about moving in with Kev, Ruth?” I asked eventually.

“Oh yes. We’ll be able to do so many things together. Like baking cheese straws,” she said dreamily.

“Are you sure Kev will want to bake?”

It was too late. She was staring into the middle distance and I’m pretty sure she was imagining herself in a floral apron, worn over a pretty summer dress, dusting her rolling pin with flour and singing Que Sera Sera. It won’t last.

She has been especially thrilled by the number of thoughtful house-warming gifts they have received such as the pack of luxury, embossed toilet paper.

“Have you got change of address cards?”

“I’ll text people, mum. This is the 21st century you know.”

Well, yes, I do know but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Although she’s lived with female friends for six years, I’m pretty confident Ruth will be able to cope with having a man about the house because she’s lived with her father and brother. She is used to male practices such as spending untold hours in the bathroom in possession of the newspaper.

Naturally Ruth and Kev will quickly need to sort out the conventions of who gets the comfiest chair, who gets the best view of the telly and who gets first dibs on the remote... that’ll definitely be Ruth.

Then there’s dividing up the housework.

I have my favourite things (I enjoy vacuuming the stairs and cleaning windows) and my husband has his (he enjoys it when I vacuum the stairs and clean windows).

In their new domain, Ruth and Kev are each keen to have their own space, a chez moi within their chez nous. I think this is a good idea. I have the house, my husband has the garden.

We all move on but while for me this may be just a column, it’s a whole new chapter for Ruth.

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