16th September Monday

Dear Emma,
Managed to do some washing but you should have seen me panicking earlier! I had to send a ready packed parcel to America, or more accurately, I had to arrange a beautifully lovingly wrapped parcel to be sent to America, and it has taken me since breakfast. I have only finished a moment ago and ‘Eggheads’ is on afternoon tele now, and I feel exhausted! Just about recovering……

The parcel was too big to take to the post office, although the post office is only down the hill from where I live. Apparently the two carefully rolled up paintings inside are too big and too awkwardly shaped for Parcel Force to manage; which is a shame as I would much rather use the post office, but it just couldn’t accommodate my parcel, Instead, I had to root around for some other company on the internet who would come and collect it….. as soon as possible. It took time and a few false and cagey starts from me and my computer, as I do not know much about sending international parcels, but finally I found a company that looked promising. I put the details and the precise dimensions and weight of the parcel into the form and paid the fee for collection tomorrow. Apparently it will arrive at the gallery in five days if I do it now, so all I had to do (I thought) is to wait to hear from D. about its arrival in St Louis. Simple stuff!

I thought the deed was done; with just the man with a van arriving tomorrow to take it away……..How niave can you be?

But before I could turn away from the computer the receipts and instructions and downloads came with a flurry into a pile in my email account. Just as well I noticed. First the label to stick on the parcel,and then a request to print off the customs notices four times, which must all be filled in by hand, plus all the general information I must read to be able to say I know what I am doing, and not putting anything illegal into the parcel. My first concern was about whether or not the printer would have enough ink for the eight bits of paper to be printed out (in black or any other colour for that matter), or even if I had enough simple white office paper for the task. Then as I read through the instructions, I realised I needed a black marker pen to scratch the tracking number on the side of the parcel. I didn’t have a black marker to hand and I had to start a search, but I could only find a black oil pastel and had to make do with that. I was soon worrying about the sticky tape, and whether or not it is the right kind of tape and ‘enough’of it to stick all the extra bits onto the parcel. I was glad I hadn’t booked the man with a van for the afternoon, thinking it might just take until midnight to feel happy about all the form filling still to be done and finding the right and most concise way of describing the contents and value of the parcel. I also had to catch up with the recipient, to make sure the details I had on his address was spot on. By lunch, it was all done, I just needed to double check on the weight and the measurements to make sure the parcel would not incur extra charges; so important not to underestimate anything.

It would be pointless and boring to explain how long I got held up with the custom declaration forms. I could hardly write my own name so I had to print off more forms and start again; and then the wondering started again hoping the printing ink wouldn’t run out, all desperate stuff…..but in the end, snail pace I had managed to fix it all.

Triumphant and rather belatedly I asked  Mick to look over and check everything and waited.

‘Hey’ he called from the kitchen ‘I think you have the measurements wrong’…..(he had measured it up originally, damn him!).

‘What?’ I reeled.’You measured it for me, you told me; what did I get wrong?’ and I ran from the room.’ You watched me do this. I will have to start again’, I said (among other things) and stomped off upstairs to recover from the sudden desperate panic and thought of having to start all over again. I had fluffed around for a whole morning on this. It had been all futile. It was too much. I had paid the delivery company and would have to ammend everything. Even my beautiful fresh picked runner beans, were thinking about burning on the stove, although I didn’t know it yet although as it was getting nearer to lunch. Then……

‘Its ok’ said a little voice at the bottom of the stairs.’I got it wrong. centmetres confuse me. Your measurements are right. Don’t know what I was thinking.’

‘Oh.’I said, and came down the stairs, stomping a bit but just in time to save the beans!

You will never know how dreadful I felt for those extra few horrible moments today Emma, but its all ok now and my two rolled paintings are solemnly waiting ready in the hall, for the knock on the door tomorrow ‘anytime between 9 and 5’ before they take their lonely long haul to the Gallery in St Louis, USA tomorrow. Send the paintings to D. with a kiss from me Emma!

Love Rosie

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