Along with B's father, yesterday we helped B's Uncle Horace move out of the house that he has lived in all his life and in to sheltered accommodation. This has all happened quite quickly, for reasons too complicated to explain in full, involving landlords, housing associations and the holiday commitments of B's parents.
I don't have any uncles or aunts of my own (unless you count my mother's cousin, Aunt E, who plays the accordian, has a beard and who radiates the good-natured enthusiasm common to all retired reception-class teachers I have ever met), so this part of the whole family dynamic is a bit foreign to me. Uncle Horace is a very nice, normal chap, who's only weak point is a tendency to find 'priceless antiques' in corners of his house on a regular basis. cf the 'original' Lowry paintings in his dining room and his priceless Van Gogh biscuit tin.
Despite this though, he is a very pragmatic type, who wasn't at all fazed about moving out of the family home. B's mum, however, suddenly had a wobble about it all last week and got very upset - she was born in the house too, although she's not lived there for thirty years. The whole thing was made more complicated by the fact that she was working away from home this week and has had to oversee the operation by remote control.
She hired in a men-and-van team, who were supposed to move all the stuff Horace needed and then tip all the stuff he didn't. They did the first part and not the second. They required paying in cash (no surprises there), but B's mum had told B's dad that they would invoice us. Hence the following conversation:
B's dad: You'll be billing us?
Van-man: No, we're removal men!
B's dad: No, you'll be billing us?
Van-man: (looks round at B and I helplessly) No, no, we're not builders, we're removal men!
By this stage he had already had the conversation with Horace about the priceless van Gogh biscuit tin and the 'original' Constable table mats, so the whites of his eyes were beginning to show. B had to leave the room so he didn't disgrace himself laughing.
Exit B's dad, grumpily, to the cash point.