The Godfather: Peter Corris on moving house
It has been said that moving house can be a stressful event, not far behind a marriage breakup or a death in the family. Having moved so many times in three states and the ACT, Jean and I have no fears of such an impact; however, after being in our present house for five years – a record for us – it will take its toll. Not only do we have to move but also radically downsize. This place has three bedrooms, the flat we’re moving to has one.
Books are a major concern; I have a couple of hundred books, survivors of a major cull of a few years ago, which I can no longer read. I’m hoping at least some of them will interest second-hand booksellers. Otherwise there are institutions – prisons, hospitals and so on – that will benefit.
As a result of careful husbandry, I also have a copy of every book I’ve had published, from a somewhat crude academic exercise of nearly 50 years ago to the most recent Cliff Hardy novel. I have every anthology in which a story of mine has appeared. I’m hoping this collection will profitably attract a buyer.
I intend to end up with only the three volumes of Somerset Maugham’s short stories – works that have been of great pleasure and instruction to me and which I cannot bear to part with.
Disposal of books in these ways will release a number of large book cases. There is other furniture to go – beds, cabinets, shelves, occasional tables. Over the years we have accumulated things in baskets and drawers – balls of string, household implements, instruction books for long-disposed-of electronic equipment and so on. This detritus can go into the wheelie bins, a process that has already begun, in the weeks remaining before the move.
Space for clothes will be limited and reductions will have to be made. I can do without a long-out-of-fashion suit, some threadbare T-shirts and gear from my golfing and gym-going days. I will hang onto the gown from my first graduation in 1964. Academic gowns don’t date and I have a fancy for it to be presented to the first of my grandchildren to earn a degree.
Outside there is garden furniture, no longer needed, pot plants too big and numerous to be accommodated and an assortment of tools and devices for purposes long forgotten.
I remarked to Jean that the best thing would be to wave a magic wand and be transported to the new digs with everything needed and nothing more. Presumably this is what the rich do – have people to handle the whole thing, then go off to their country place if moving in the city and vice versa if acquiring a different rural retreat. But I bet, as with us, there’ll come a time when they say, ‘Where’s that thingamajig I haven’t used for years but need now?’ and they will know that it’s either rusting in landfill or on the bench in someone else’s shed.