Van unpack

I got to know all the people in my little crescent today. I’ve known many of them in passing, and a few of them more closely. I’m pretty well known in my block, but I’m there on top, frequently sorting things out, and having a personality. I’ve made friends over the years. They’ve all moved out. Nicky who hated the management, Andrew the angry scotsman, Jamila the fashion blogger. I helped her break in to her own flat once with an hour of very conspicuous trying and a coathanger. It was bank holiday. She’d locked herself out smoking. “As soon as this works I want a photo of you in a frame or somesuch so I’m not an accessory to robbery.” She had one, thankfully. Then Morris. Poor Morris. In his beautiful clothes, never with a penny to rub together, scavenging from all of our bins but never selling his findings. Proud but down. “Never get old,” he would shout. I helped him in a few times when he was the worse for wear. He’s been put in a home now by a family he detested. He’s far gone enough for them to dismiss his humanity in favour of his assets. We miss him. Just today a woman spoke of how she didn’t mind when she realised she had to pay for Morris buying a round of drinks. Another guy asked how he was. I’m sad about it – I’d like to visit. But because wherever he is he’s still swearing about his family, they don’t want us to see him. So “he’s on holiday in Croatia having a lovely time” while he dies in a grey room in Staines.

By unloading the van outside my block I’ve got to know my current neighbours better. None as glamorous as Jamila. None as angry as Nicky or Andrew. But some interesting allies and friends. A super solid chap convalescing from something. An estate agent I’d met in the pub before with fast eyes. A punctilious and ordered fellow who works in small spaces internationally and cares about detail. A ducker and diver, filled with charm, inscrutable. The epitome of glamour pulled by a black labrador. My Biarritz ex model friend in the flat below me, who was off for free champagne with the Queen at The Flower Show. My new neighbor, who talked me into taking a large box. And a tired exhibitor, back once again for the show, paying extra to get an Airbnb in my block five minutes from the venue. She went for a power nap while the road was getting shut down for the queen and got back into the fray three hours later for the free champagne. “I can sleep while all that royal stuff is going on. But I’ll be back for the booze.”


I’ve been out the front of my house all day, you see, surrounded by books, records, scores and knick knacks. I’ve been emptying the van. It has finally gone back home. Phil has reclaimed it. Thank fuck. £30 a day parking. Done. I’m feeling both relieved and bereft. I’ve got work booked for most of June and July so it’s academic, but now I can no longer easily move large things. Also now the contents of my flat are static. I can add no more. I can only reduce things from now on. Considering my busy summer to come, this can only be a good thing. But now I have to ask myself if having a van is the thing I should do between jobs. It’s been extremely positive…

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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