I suppose it's because I have so much time on my hands these days, that all these memories come flooding back to me.
This was the name of my small removal and delivery business I had going way back in the eighties. I had better go back to the beginning to explain.
You see back then there was a lull in the oil construction business. I still had a mortgage and a family to support and being unemployed would not be very helpful at that particular time. So what I did was convert what was once a small coffee shop into a second hand furniture shop and business. At the same time as this I was also busy converting the rest of that building into a home for us to live. This was the building that was left to my sister and I after our parents had died. I had bought my sisters half from her and also had that bank loan to carry as well. The property was very run down and in desperate need of repair so the plan was to sell my house next door then move into the larger one on completion, thus relieving me from all that debt. In fact it was quite a stressful time for me both financially and emotionally. The reason being that this was the house where I spent my childhood, and brought back both good and bad memories.
So being out of work was the last thing I wanted, especially with all that debt to worry about. The work itself was enjoyable although very hard and the workday seemed never-ending. I would be up early every morning to start renovating either the house or some furniture to sell in the shop. If I was not busy with that I would be away at an auction somewhere in Scotland, buying up stock for the shop. It would be quite normal in those days to rise at five in the morning, be driving to an auction within an hour and not get home till very late that evening. Fortunately days like that were not frequent as there were still a few good auction houses closer to home. Most of these long journeys would be to farm clearouts where I could fill up the van with stock within a couple of hours, then head home.
Now there would be periods during these trips where the van was not being used and this was not very cost effective, bearing in mind my massive overheads. So I started to use the van for small removals and deliveries for various shops. In fact there were times when this side of the business was more profitable than the shop and I must admit that I enjoyed it as there was never a dull day. I recall one day in particular when I was asked to go to house where I would be met by the owner to pick up a full load of furniture and boxes to deliver to a small town further down the coast. What could be easier? Well... so I thought!
It turned out to be not so normal at all in the end. You see I had been asked to arrive very early in the morning, to load up quickly and be away by nine am. Not thinking this was at all strange I arrived early as asked. The woman was very agitated and nervous and seemed very keen to get away, so I was going as fast as possible with the loading.
Then I heard an argument coming from the house, while I was tying the load down in the van. When I went back into the house to collect more, I was confronted by a very angry large male who gave me the impression that I would like to be somewhere else at that moment in time. It turned out that he was, indeed, her estranged boyfriend who had just come off a night shift and came along with his brother to pick up the furniture as well. It all began to make sense to me, especially when I saw his van parked in front on mine, blocking my exit! Now this situation was not at all in my favour being, as I was, out-numbered and outsized at the same time and the fact that his brother had now climbed into the back of my van and started to untie the load inside. Suddenly the idea of being somewhere else at that time was very comforting, so I went back to my van and asked this massive bloke if he wouldn't mind stepping out of my van until we got this all sorted out.
To my surprise and relief, he calmly did so and we both went back into the house to separate the couple who were now at the violent stage. I happily stepped aside while the massive big bloke separated them both physically. Then the fingers started pointing at me while shouting at her. My only response to this was to shrug my shoulders and point at my watch, hoping that I could stay neutral and in one piece at the same time.
I then realised the reason why I had to go to her sister's house to pick her up that morning and why she was in a hurry. It transpired that they had split up and she had been living with her sister while waiting for the council to find her accommodation for her and the two children in another town. The boyfriend, meanwhile, had been living in the house and she had obviously hoped that we would be long gone before he got home from his night shift.
The brother seemed to be doing a good job in calming the situation down and, indeed, I was surprised when he managed to get them to agree to split the furniture and other contents up between them. So I had to untie all the contents that were going to be transferred into his van, while he did the same in his own. There then followed a few more tense moments while that argument would start up again over a certain piece.
I must admit to being very relieved when I slid down the back door of the van and was ready to leave. Then, to my surprise, the woman climbed into the cab of my van. Now there was no mention of this earlier and it did inflame the boyfriend again. At one point I was even being accused of being her new found lover!
She then just screamed at me to drive and get away from the scene quickly, at the same time informing me that her sister was bringing the children to the new house later on that day. At one point she asked me to go faster in case her boyfriend was following her to find her new address. I tried to explain that a fully laden Ford Luton van was not the ideal vehicle for speeding away in.
Once we were out of town she appeared to calm down and went on to explain that the children were from her first marriage and that she had just been living with the man she was leaving. But he had started to be violent towards her and the children when he was drunk. I did mention that she seemed to be very well organised with the move.
'Of course!' she replied. 'After all I have done all this before.'
This put a sense of humour into what had been a very tricky situation, which she did apologise for.
After that experience I made a point of finding out more information about my customers before taking on any removal work. Mind you looking back on it now, it was funny - but not at the time.