Week 12: Documentation part 2

We still have not exchanged contracts. I would be at the point of despair, except that the buyer turned up here on Sunday. He does exist, he’s perfectly nice, he wants the flat. We were able to discuss details face to face and so get round some of the elaborate incompetencies of solicitors. We all shook our heads in astonishment and looked at the floor in resignation at just how bad conveyancing can be.

lettersI had recently emerged from the attic and so was rather grubby. In there, I had found a box labelled ‘stuff to sort’. (I might mention here that the attic is my domain, not Husband’s. I’m in charge of what goes up there.) The battered box contained a rather precious collection of old photographs and letters. Letters are an increasingly rare form of communication and all the more precious because of that, but what amazed me about this little treasure trove was that I’d entirely forgotten I had it. It could have gone up in smoke and I’d never have missed it. Now that I’ve found it again, I couldn’t throw it away. It will come to Portugal in a new box – the old one was too dusty – and be put away and then I will meet it again in another ten or fifteen years with a similar sense of why-did-I-keep-this combined with I-cannot-throw-this-stuff-away.

Everything on the Portuguese side is looking good. Best of all, my London accountant and the Doutora of Taxes in Portugal have made one another’s acquaintance over the phone and sorted out everything between them. I don’t have to worry about another thing, apart from keeping records and paying up. The mysteries of taxation and double taxation and everything related to them are theirs to keep.


Dad was the first-aider of the family

Dad was the first-aider of the family

At the start of this blog, I described the impulse for this move as ‘hardly felt’. None the less, I think I know when it was. The ‘slight inner adjustments’ (see Week 8: borrowing the words of Sebald) for me began in the final weeks of my father’s life. Like most fathers, mine liked to try to teach his children things. Like most children, at a certain age I stopped listening. In the last weeks of his life, I had my eyes and ears opened to some powerful lessons from my father: about bravery, about love, and about death. And when you feel love, and look very closely at death – a good death at the end of a long life – living is altered, even enhanced. You carry a small nugget of sadness and disbelief inside you, and a series of inner adjustments takes place. Possibilities begin to suggest themselves. The idea of change becomes appealing. Risks seem worth taking. Before long, you are making life-altering, life-enhancing decisions and hardly know how they occurred.

My father would be fully in support of this move. Or, from wherever he’s watching, is fully in support of this move. And the documenting of it in a blog: he’s somehow behind that too. Perhaps it is just a thin veil separating the living from the dead.

The view from the front terrace of our house-to-be

The view from the front terrace of our house-to-be


  1. Penny Johnstone

    Reunited with your blog after two weeks of holiday, I’m still finding it a marvel. The way you write about your father is so moving and as I too am trying to get to grips with generations of papers, letters and photos, I find it inspirational. It must also mean so much to your mother.

  2. Blair

    You do write beautifully and this one made me cry.

  3. Janet M

    You are such an amazing writer. I did smile at having a box labeled “things to sort”. I think we must all have a box like that somewhere, to be opened “someday” (but not today) 😉


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