My (freaky) koala


When I was a child I thought like a child, which is probably why I found that this koala that was gifted to me by my grandmother in Australia really freaked the living daylights out of me.

You see my koala was once a real koala. And I don’t mean this in the slightly jokey, childish understand that of course all my cuddly toys were real. This one wasn’t cuddly, it really was an ex-koala. A hard, stuffed real koala with fake, plastic claws, nose and eyes.

What a perfect gift for a child?!

I never knew what to do with him. (I always assumed it was a boy koala — I could be wrong.) He would sit on my bed during the day, and lie on the floor at night. I couldn’t cuddle him, he was too hard, his plastic claws too sharp, and his fake nose too cold. And he smelled a bit. Oh yeah, that and HE USED TO BE A REAL KOALA!!!

That’s what freaked me out the most. What if the ghost of the koala came to haunt me? What if… actually I didn’t really care “what if…” — he used to be a real flippin’ koala bear, that’s surely enough to freak a kid out. Dead things, as I understood it, should be buried. You die, you get buried, job done. You don’t get them stuffed! Ancient Egypt, as far as I was concerned, was just an experiment that went wrong. A giant game of hide ‘n’ seek that got a little out of hand.

Only I don’t think that they actually stuffed the pharaohs, but you know what I mean. Once they’re dead, why not just leave them that way? We didn’t stuff or mummify my Dad when he died in 1998. And you know, somehow I’ve never really regretted that decision.

Which was a shame, because I wanted to love my little koala. Like I said, he’d been a gift from my grandmother (she prefered the term “Nana” as it didn’t make her sound as old) and I so wanted to have some fond connection with my Dad’s mum, who lived on the other side of the world.

We once tried to dig a hole in the garden to try and reach her in Australia, but when it started to get colder and the evening drew in we lost interest and went in for tea and a bath. The hole didn’t go to waste, though. We used it to bury the cat. Which, incidentally, we didn’t get stuffed first!

A month or two ago Mum was clearing out the toy cupboard and somehow I ended up bringing the koala home with me. So now I have the koala again. His current hiding position is wedged behind a lamp on the top of my bookcase. I’d moved him from being a doorstop because I think he was freaking out our cats.

I kind of feel sorry for him.

I’m off to wash my hands now.

The beginning of the end at Kadesh

The kitchen at Kadesh, empty.
The kitchen at Kadesh, now finally empty.

This has been a good weekend for support and help from friends, and thanks to them Kadesh is now empty and ready for a new boiler (next week) and handover (the following week).

Last week as I began to dismantle the furniture at Kadesh Jane packed up the crockery and kitchenware. Yesterday (Saturday) we moved most of our belongings out of Kadesh with the help of our good friend and neighbour Yvonne into an empty room in our other lovely neighbours Iain and Lisa’s house.

The final item of furniture — a large Ikea unit (from the Magiker range, thanks for asking) — was moved with the kind help of another friend, Roger, after I’d cheekily e-mailed him and invited him to a Moving House Party next month! Roger kindly phoned back to say that he’d be away then but would be in Fife that very day so if we needed a hand he’d gladly pop by on his return to West Lothian. We did and so he arrived in the early evening to give us a hand. (Thanks Roger!)

Today we moved the last few boxes and the fridge (with more muscle-power from next-door neighbour Ian), and I broke my little trolley when we moved the washing machine out. Now our entrance hall is packed with … stuff.

Full hallway
A less-than-empty entrance hall in our rental property.

Jane and I returned to the living room in the rental property and slumped down on the sofa, surrounded by boxes, pictures, paintings and the four doors from the Magiker unit, feeling a strange combination of elation that we’d cleared the house in record time mixed with sadness that we’re saying goodbye to such a lovely property.

Kadesh was the right place for us at the time. It really has been a blessing — a holy place, set apart — for not only us but others too, both friends and strangers. I said to Jane this evening that I was glad that we had the opportunity to share this house with others. When we bought the property in 2004 we were the only people interested in it, the only people to put in an offer and we got it for bang-on what we were advised it was worth. It very much felt like a gift from God. Much the same has happened with the property into which we are moving early next month. What a blessing.

I’m excited to be moving on, even if the next four weeks will feel like our lives are on hold. Every other move has been been at the end of a job, the end of a chapter in our lives. This move is different: neither of us has changed jobs, life goes on, we’re just relocating.