Chaos in Pictures: An odyssey of insanity as described by James Paddock; illustrated by Ben P
Well, this has been hell. Thank Christ there’s no return trip this time around, so we won’t have to repeat this whole series of events. I wouldn’t wish the chaos that comes with the arduous process of emmigration on my worst enemy.
This emmigration thing has spanned roughly three years of systematic chaos, and three days of the kind of utter havoc that would impress Eris herself.
The night before we were due to move out of the house (27 Nov), I and my mum pulled an all-nighter, subsisting on multiple cups of tea, Kit Kats, and shortbread – with a view to regaining sleep during the 30+ hour journey to Australia which would soon follow. I managed well to begin with, but the sleep deprivation soon started to hit hard. When my body’s tolerance toward caffeine started to null the effectiveness of the torrents of tea I was forcing into it, it began to feel as though injecting concentrated coffee into my eyes was the only way forward.
On top of the tiredness, my body had to overcome further tests of endurance and outward complications. Early into the following morning, frost began to appear outside – the first of the winter season. The house started to get cold. Like, really cold. Stupidly cold. Fridge-freezer-in-the-Arctic cold. It always seemed a physical impossibility how cold our house was capable of getting. Colder than it was outside, for Pete’s sake.
Previously I’d felt warm and rosy-cheeked, wrapped in little more than a thick T-shirt, a fleece and thermal socks, and now suddenly I felt as though I was going to die of pneumonia at any moment. My extremities began to feel genuinely frostbitten. Desperation started to set in. I wore ridiculously large gloves on top of my fingerless gloves. I put on a woolly hat, heated it by breathing as much of my searing, stinking breath into it as I could, periodically smothered my face in the hat, and even resorted to wearing it over approximately the top two-thirds of my head. I even wore one of my dad’s large woolly jumpers on top of my fleece. All of this was merely an exercise in humilation and futility, as my body temperature just continued to decline. Not to mention that all throughout, I’d been slipping in and out of consciousness as the sleep deprivation started to take its toll on my slowly perishing mind.
Things did not improve even by noon. Quivering like a mound of pathetic jelly, I opted to take to bed. I say “bed”, it was actually just a mattress in the spare bedroom because the sheet and duvet had already been packed away by the removal men (as had nearly everything in the entire house by this point). There I lay, in the fetal position, using my second woolly hat as a makeshift pillow, attempting to get comfortable and still my seemingly dying body.
…I awoke (about an hour later) in quite possibly one of the foulest of moods I’ve ever been in. My family know well how screwed my body clock is, and for the last few days, the removal men’s labour had awoken me before my body had decided that it had gotten enough sleep. As my family’s well aware, if my body is even slightly below par, all bodily functions become a torturous ordeal. My brain virtually ceases to function, and my muscles scream in agony whenever they are called upon to do anything remotely physical. (Yes, you guessed – I’m not fit.) Imagine this feeling, but on top of that, you’ve crawled naked into a half-frozen lake during the night and tried to replenish what little energy you could that way. This is roughly how I now felt.
My family were preparing to leave the house to be relayed to the train station and the house was in a state of absolute bedlam. My laptop case had been stuffed lovingly full of rubbish by my brother, in an effort to file it away somewhere. Everyone was in as foul a mood as I – basically it had turned out that the house still hadn’t actually sold. We weren’t going to get the money from it until the mortgage company got their arses into gear and completed the transaction – and the phones had been cut off by our provider so we couldn’t contact anyone about it. This naturally got my mum and dad into a visible state of… unrest. Or perhaps complete despair.
Still, we continued to pack our things, but we were rapidly approaching the time that the taxi driver was due to pick us up. The last few minutes were a flurry of blindly stuffing suitcases with belongings we probably didn’t even need to take with us, but were lying around unsorted so had to go somewhere. We still couldn’t take everything – in fact, my dad had to leave a few valuable and perfectly saleable things behind, which he was quite cut up about. We ended up with about sixteen fully-packed bags, many of which were large and unwieldy to carry (including two or three open-top bags with handles consisting of what felt like titanium-wrought rope that dug right into the flesh when held for any length of time greater than 4 seconds), and other bags which were broken and unreliable for storing what they were allocated, but there just wasn’t enough time to sort things into a sane manner.
To be honest, sanity itself was in direly short supply.
Eventually the taxi driver dude arrived to take us to the train station – a friendly man with the looks of Mel Smith and the build of Shrek, who was mighty helpful in getting our bags onto his huge people-carrier. (He also helped us out stacking our overflow of stuff onto a trolley so we could get onto the train. Lovely bloke.) As we stacked the car, the removal guys who’d packed all of our stuff with unstoppable zeal – also lovely guys, overall – bade us good luck and farewell on our travels. The eventual departure from the house (and the last six years of our lives) was so frantic that there was no time for last-minute regrets. (And I was so cold by this point that I couldn’t have gotten away from that frigid, hollow iceberg of a house fast enough. After all that, the only thing I think we’ll genuinely miss about that place is Scotty.)
The removal men and the taxi driver were unfortunately the last legitimately nice people we’ve talked to since then.
Once we (and our sixteen pieces of luggage) got onto on the train, we were seated beside a pair of women with a baby that every five minutes or so sobbed for it’s mummy like the little attention whore that it was. An annoyance, but nothing much else, and we only had to endure its unwanted company for about 10 minutes because the family got off the train about two stops into our journey. At least it ended.
The taxi driver who took us from King’s Cross to Heathrow seemed nice, but about 30 seconds into the drive, I collapsed onto my brother’s extraordinarily comfortable shoulder, and slept like a log, for about 40 minutes. Which I’m sure he appreciated.
On the next step of the journey (a 12-hour flight) we were seated in front of some kind of damnable thrashing she-demon who on an hourly basis woke up, realised nothing was wrong, and instantly shattered this set of circumstances by screaming as though it was some kind of tortured, soulless wretch confined eternally to a swirling abyss of fire, demanding a death that would never come. Had it been legal for me to do so, I would’ve gladly provided it with such a fate, possibly through the blunt end of my keytar, which I would’ve crawled into the baggage compartment of the plane while it was in mid-flight to retrieve, had I the physicial capability to do so.
I slept for most of the second flight – a comparatively endurable five hours in length – but I’d still not technically had a decent night’s kip in about 72 hours. The lack of sleep is still getting to us all. The insanity is not quite at Jack Thompson levels yet but they are rapidly being approached.
I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to talk to either of my parents without inadvertently sparking off some sort of full-scale nuclear war. It’s almost to the point where I know exactly how each argument is going to go. I can understand their frustration with the whole affair – between them they’ve poured infinite effort and heart into the process of getting us into Australia, and the whole time there seem to have been troubles or annoyances, major and minor, which have all added up into an odyssey of pain. They’ve literally worked their hands into states of ruin, sacrificed almost everything, and suffered needlessly throughout the whole thing. They’re entitled to feel hard done by. However, it’s now gotten to the point where, whenever an unexpected upset occurs, a verbal war of attrition is immediately sparked off, that seems to last hours. The intensity of the arguments are so disproportionate to the issues at hand, too. Temporarily misplaced some money? THE END OF DAYS. Left a spare fleece behind at the airport? ETERNAL DAMNATION IN PITS OF BURNING SULPHUR. We’ve been overcharged for our room? OH DEAR GOD WE’RE ALL GOING TO BE FLAYED ALIVE BY FACELESS DEMONS AS SCORPIONS CRAWL DOWN OUR THROATS. WHILE LISTENING TO COLDPLAY ON INFINITE REPEAT.
They’ve agreed (sorta) to cool down a bit, though, and to try to focus more on resolving these issues where possible, instead of fighting over them for inappropriate lengths of time. But it’s really been obstacle after obstacle and ripoff after ripoff. We really have to ask when it will end.
We just got to our rented accommodation and – let’s just say it’s small. I’m personally happy to have somewhere to sit down finally, but to my parents, we might as well have booked a week in an iron maiden. It’s at least clean, but pretty damn cramped – especially considering the sheer number of luggage bags we have – and the fact is that we’ve probably been overcharged even if we didn’t pay double after all. The landlady has been headachy and apparently dealing with the police lately so she’s been… less than cooperative.
…I’ve gotta say, I’ve had better birthdays.
Here’s to twenty years on this planet, wankahs.
Many thanks to all of you who did write out cards, for the love and well-wishes. And the money, heh. Although it’s in British pounds, I at least have an Australian bank account that I can store it in (as Aus dollars) now. 😛
Don’t worry about all this, everyone. This has simply been a tough time (that I’ve somewhat overdramatised for comedic effect) which I’m sure will blow over sooner or later. Love to you all. x