Thank God it's Friday

19th June 1998 at 01:00
Monday Wake up in a cold sweat. In the past 10 days I have:

* Spent two days in Jersey being interviewed * Been appointed * Left my old teaching post * Spent last weekend in Jersey looking for a house * Found one * Put my house up for sale * Arranged removals * Booked the ferry * Slipped a disc last Monday and done all the organising lying on the floor.

With two days to pack up and move out, I swallow a handful of painkillers and prepare for the fray.

Tuesday The loft is empty, and the kitchen cleared. Last week, Pickfords assured us the packers would handle everything and we could sit back and relax. At 10am, there is no sign of them. I phone Pickfords. "Don't worry," says the man. 'He'll be there." He? surely he meant "they"? As I put the phone down, there is a knock on the door. It's a little old man in a sweat-stained tee-shirt - the packer. Just him. I reach for the painkillers, and regret packing the whisky.

I nip out to bid former colleagues farewell. Return to find my wife in tears. The letting agents have phoned. Our housing licence is delayed, so we can't move in for at least a week. In a panic, I phone my new school. John, my head of department has a spare room. Relieved, we leave the keys with Pickfords and head off.

Wednesday Up at 4am. Leave my mother's house for Poole. The car is packed to the gunwales with clothes, dog, two cats, baby and essential paraphernalia. If we don't move too much, we can just about fit in.

Arrive in Poole at 5am. It's dark, wet and cold. Undaunted, we board the ferry, and watch the cheery video about what to do if the boat sinks (drown?).

As the Dorset coast retreats, I am gripped by the enormity of what we are doing. Everything has happened so fast. I want to run to the ship's bridge and turn the ship around.

As we dock, we return to the car, to find cats get seasick too.

Thursday We're here! I don't know what John's wife, Diana, thought when two strangers arrived in a reeking car with a pair of vomit-covered cats. I visit the school, and know it's the right choice. I meet the staff and boys, receive textbooks and schemes, and get to know the school.

Eventually, suffering severe information overload, I beat a retreat to St Helier to sort out our housing crisis. The agent is understanding, but until our housing licence appears, we're locked out. Fortunately, baby and dog are a great hit with our hosts' children. We are welcome to stay as long as we need.

Friday All quiet. I am enjoying a cup of tea and my first lie-in since I got the job. Then the phone rings. As the answer machine takes the call I hear my name. I rush to the kitchen to hear a man's voice asking where on Earth I am. Our belongings are waiting outside our house. I start to explain about our housing licence, but he says the lorry is booked on today's ferry. Suppressing an image of our belongings sitting in the road, I ring the agent.

He is far more helpful than yesterday. He will release the keys, but we must return them when the lorry is unloaded.

Looking around our new home, I am suddenly overwhelmed. We've done it. I suddenly feel free. On Wednesday, it felt like we were running. Now, it's a fresh start. Our life has entered a new phase and all we can do is look forward.

Andrew Robbins teaches maths at Victoria College in Jersey

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