We are busy downsizing and getting rid of things we have had for the best part of 42 years.  I placed a ‘for sale’ advert in the local paper advertising a filing cabinet.  It was an ordinary, unremarkable 4-drawer metal cabinet, slightly battered and a bit rusty.  The asking price was £10.

On the day it appeared in the paper, a lady rang up to enquire about the cabinet.  She asked me lots of questions, what colour was it? (light grey), what size was it? (the size all 4-drawer cabinets are), would it take ordinary hanging files? (yes), could you deliver it? (depends where you are)….and so on.  My powers of description are somewhat limited when it comes to describing a filing cabinet, particularly one that I have taken for granted for 42 years.  We agreed that I’d deliver it since she lived only a mile or so away.

I should explain that the filing cabinet was in the cellar.  It took an hour of huffing and puffing to get it out of the cellar and into the back of the Volvo Estate.  Part of this time was taken working out how the hell to get the drawers back on their runners.  Eventually triumphant, I drove to the address I had been given.

I couldn’t pull up immediately outside because other cars were parked there.  I walked back and noticed that the house looked neglected and that all the curtains were drawn.  I phoned on my mobile to check I had got the address right and said I was standing outside but couldn’t help but notice that all the curtains were drawn.  The lady offered no explanation and opened the front door.  She was a large woman of about sixty dressed totally in black with bare feet.  She asked me where the filing cabinet was and I said I’d like her to take a look at it before I got it out of the Volvo just to make sure it was what she wanted. She tottered down the street in her bare feet, took one glance at the cabinet and said it was perfect, exactly right.  Then she disappeared back in to her house.

I unloaded the cabinet and got it onto my trolley.

Unfortunately, the trolley wheels refused to go up over the lip on the front doorstep.  Eventually the lady lent me two large battered books and I managed to haul the trolley over the threshold.  Inside, was a small front room with papers everywhere; all over the floor, on every chair and surface; everywhere.  It was certainly the untidiest room I have ever seen – though my wife, who once was a health visitor and went to some pretty dodgy places, says I have led a sheltered life.  Piles of paper and a sofa had to be moved before the filing cabinet could make further progress.

Having got it into the front room, I asked where she wanted the cabinet put.  It was then that she told me it needed to go in the small bedroom upstairs.  I remained calm, even outwardly cheerful, and asked if I could examine the stairs.  They were steep and narrow (not much wider than a filing cabinet) and had a nasty bend half way up. They were also covered in piles of papers!  I said that I very much doubted the filing cabinet would make it round the bend but I’d give it a go.  To be honest, having got the blasted thing this far, I was determined not to have to take it back home again.  Papers, books, and various unwashed mugs were cleared aside.  I took the drawers out of the filing cabinet and, with the cabinet balanced precariously on the third step of the stairs, the lady offered to help.  There was nothing for it but to bring the cabinet back down again to allow her to pass.  Then with me lifting from below and her pulling from above, with a considerable amount of wobbly cleavage on display, we inched the cabinet, step by step, up the stairs and manoeuvred it (just) round the bend.  The dear lady kept saying, ‘I can’t believe we are doing this’ when all the while I was thinking to myself, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this!’.

The chaos continued unabated upstairs; curtains drawn, papers everywhere, stuff piled high on the bed.  I asked her where she wanted the cabinet and, as if this was a foolish question, she said she’d already cleared a space; not at all obvious to me.

Eventually, with the drawers replaced on their runners, the job was done.  I muttered my apologies to the filing cabinet for abandoning it in such unattractive surroundings.  The lady gave me gave me a ten pound note and I beat a retreat.

When I got home, my wife asked me what could possibly have taken so long.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Nina

Add your voice

Current day month ye@r *

Enjoyed this article? Want to hear more? Book me as a speaker at your next event.

Recent Anecdotes

So far as other people are concerned, you are your behaviour