Friday, February 22, 2008

I Climbed Everest When I was 12 in one Day, Without Oxygen and Carrying a Sherpa

A long title you might assume. You assume correctly. I have to say that such a feat must be on a par with moving house after seven years. As those who know me will attest, I have led a somewhat nomadic life. This stared when I moved to Sweden in 1984, and as one does, I gathered numerous baubles in addition to memories – most of them unhappy ones I might add, as previous reference to that awful country in this blog will demonstrate. Said baubles were gathered in a large wooden crate, and as far as I know, apart from a few prized possessions, they still languish in some dark cellar in deepest Sweden.

I then moved to the UK in mid 1988, and gathered more baubles. Staying for less than a year (although I kept a place there) I moved to Germany in early 1989. I stayed in Germany until 1995 when I was made redundant. I stayed in no less than five different places in Germany. My primary aim was to be in accommodation where there were no children as neighbors. I was assured that at every place I visited, there would be no children. So much for such assurances, as weekends became a nightmare. I eventually found a wonderful apartment in Downtown Mannheim (or Casa D’Uomo as we foreigners used to call it). It was within walking distance of my favorite hostelry too. The landlady was a lovely lady, who had a parrot who used to call me ‘murderer’ every time he saw me. Who can argue with a parrot?

After trying to get a job anywhere in Europe, and discovering that no one wants a smart-ass aged 50, I decided to try my luck in the US, and found gainful employment within a few days. I decided to move to the US. I returned to Germany, and by now my treasure had accumulated to massive proportions. In fact, I filled a rental car to such an extent I could not see through either the interior or one side mirror. I deposited much of these treasures in my daughter’s loft in England. A while later, she decided to bring me some of the suitcases when she visited California, and she found my gun which was loaded, and the safety was off. To say she was not pleased is an understatement.

After some years in California, I settled into Florida – commonly known as God’s Waiting Room – in 1998. This was supposed to be a three-month assignment, but I enjoyed the lifestyle so much, I stayed. After living in five different places, I finally settled in my last place in 2001. This had an area of about 600 square feet, which by last year had accumulated so many ‘treasures’ that I could hardly move. In view of Homeland Security’s need to be rid of undesirables, I was not going to be able to stay, and although my initial plan was to live in Florida in the Winter and the UK in the Summer, this was not going to be possible. So, after getting married to Pam on the beach a few days before Christmas last year – in glorious sunshine and 75 degree weather – I moved back to Blighty earlier this month.

This is where the title of this tome comes into its own. I decided it was prudent to be rid of much of the crap that I’d accumulated. This included nine computers, many of which were dead, but I did manage to get six of them working and donated them to a variety of friends – mainly older folks who only wanted them to be able to send dirty jokes! I decided to cull my clothes. I often wonder why clothes seem to shrink when they are not regularly worn. Other ‘priceless’ items were either dumped, or sold for a nominal fee, including my furniture. I found items that had been faithfully carried to each abode over the years, and never looked at during the intervening years. There was much dumping, but a painful process nonetheless. In Florida, one can dump any old electrical piece of equipment, or an old piece of furniture outside one’s house hoping the trash people will take it. Fortunately, some sharp-eyed two-bit thief will spot this, and remove it within ten minutes. A dead washing machine will be gone in five minutes.

This reminds me of ‘Turks’ Night’ in Germany. One Wednesday each month, the Germans are allowed to dump all their unwanted chattel onto the street outside. This can be anything including washing machine, furniture, dead bicycles etc. This process starts about 6 p.m. and then the streets are filled with the Turkish immigrant population, dragging most of it away to be fixed or whatever they do with it. At about midnight, the local authorities come round and pick up whatever’s left. I suspect that this practice is still going, but the Turks have now been joined by the cream of Eastern Europe’s criminals.

I digress. My abode was sold for a pittance. But I still made what I paid for it in 2001! The place was in need of ‘tenting’ – an expensive solution to dealing with termites. There were traces of their work everywhere. Fortunately, the new owner never noticed, and as he could have offered me more money for my place, I was not upset. He has since redecorated and remodeled the whole place anyway, and put it back on the market. A serious gamble in my view, as he still has to pay $400 ground rent for the place per month. There are so many places for sale right now.

My trusty steed, the Mercury Grand Marquis, was also sold for a pittance. But this was a good idea, as the power steering was on its way out. The electrics were a mess. Easier to list what did work - the windshield wipers, but only in the dry. I essentially got 18 month’s worth of driving for under $900 including repairs. Can’t be bad. I would have loved to have it over here, but with its wide size, poor gas consumption (about 12 around town) and broken headlights, I doubt if it would have lasted long. As an aside, gas is now hovering around the $9.50 a gallon mark over here.

I was quoted $2,200 for shipping charges for the remainder of my stuff. I took it to FedEx in four large heavy boxes, and it came to less than $350. I even managed to get my PC over, although I immediately blew the power supply – a common mistake so I’m told. They don’t come much more common than I do. I still have to get the PC hooked up to Broadband. What a tedious affair this is. When I switched to Broadband in the US, it took about two days. Here in the UK, after getting a new phone line (which can’t be in my name as I have no credit record here), the process started, and it will take over a week to be able to use it. Thankfully, Rik is standing by to give advice.

So, moving all that stuff either to the dump or here was a nasty experience all told. Now I’ve got to find places to put it here. But Pam does enjoy my Winnie-The-Pooh cushions.

Here endeth today’s lesson.