This morning, I counted up how many times I have moved accommodation. Because I did a lot of placements as part of my professional training, I knew it would be a large number and, in fact, it was 36 times.
Yep, that’s right, 36 times I have packed and unpacked and packed again. I’ve filled cars with boxes and a bike, carried numerous cases on trains, and got away with being completely over the baggage allowance limit on a plane to Africa thanks to a very kind Frenchman on check in. I have a done a lot of packing. I’m good at it.
But I wasn’t so good at the beginning.
Before my first placement in Ipswich, I had to move out of my student halls of residence in York and return home to London for a weekend. So I had divided my packing into three: things to leave at home, things to take on placement, and things that needed washing first.
Everything went according to plan. My dad drove me and my luggage the two hundred miles home on the Friday. My mum did my laundry on Saturday. Then on Sunday my dad and I took the local train into central London for my connection to Suffolk.
As the train pulled away from the platform at Liverpool Street Station, like a scene from a film, I leaned out of the window waving goodbye to my dad. Until suddenly, a terrible thought hit me:
“Dad! Dad!” I yelled urgently, “I’ve got no knickers!”
I hadn’t packed my freshly washed underwear.
“Don’t worry,” called this middle aged London commuter as he ran to keep up, “I’ll get your mum to post them to you.”
There was nothing else we could do. I turned inside the carriage to find, to my puzzlement, that everyone there was staring at me. Then I realised exactly what I’d said and how everyone had heard it. So I duly announced, just to clarify matters:
“In. My. Suitcase.”
Sure enough, a few days later a brown paper package arrived full of underwear (and I was very grateful to the postman who left it on the doorstep rather than make me wait for the weekend and a trip into town to collect it). I coped in the interim using shower gel as washing powder and a heated towel rail as a dryer every night.
But it taught me to be more relaxed about packing and moving. If I could cope with forgetting underwear, anything else I might forget was minor.
But I can’t watch those old movies with their tearful farewells on a steam misted railway platform without waiting for a heroine, just once, to reply to her beloved’s romantic endearments with:
“But I’ve forgotten my knickers”!