Wednesday 2 November 2011

White van men

That’s a Luton, above. Most of them look a bit more battered, but you can fit a lot into a Luton. Much of today was spent loading up a Luton with a 70-odd-year-old poet’s boxes (of books, of papers) and some bookcases and other furniture too and moving them from one part of London to storage in another part. Two recent days have been spent doing the same with twenty years’ accumulation of paintings by an artist (who is being evicted from her charity-controlled studio on the grounds she doesn’t use it enough), and tomorrow the same. The drivers – Hungarian and Romanian – have been a joy: cheerful, helpful, gsoh, and – even allowing for the cigarette breaks – amazingly fast and efficient.

A few years ago we regularly used a Luton driver who was German, had a philosophy degree, and whose conversation made the time (some of the journeys were to or from far outside London) speed by. He asked us to supper. The meal – cooked by his French wife, and eaten outside in summertime on a cracked patio overlooking a unkempt garden somewhere in Harrow; three courses at least, with a different wine for each course – was one of the best I’ve had. Then he moved on. He told us to go to his abandoned house and take what furniture we liked. My desk chair, the one I’m sitting on, was his chair. I’m privileged.

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