This article has been transcribed from a copy of the Cardiff Times in the online collection of scanned Welsh newspapers 1804-1919 in the National Library of Wales, with grateful recognition of the free access accorded to all readers. Paragraph breaks have been introduced for easier reading.

One of a number of articles in which Samuel exposes misleading advertising and the distress it can cause. David Skilton

HIS is a ‘moving’ tale, sir: it is a tale about men who are generally in the ‘van[‘] of progress — the furniture removal van of progress. I have been moving, sir. It perhaps is not the first time you have heard of me moving. Well, sir, my household goods have been moved during the last week by the minions of an individual who advertises that ‘Goods are carefully removed to Town or Country.’ It was Mrs Samuel who advised this removal. She said of our quondam (this is not a bad word, ‘a swear,’ sir, though it looks like one; it can quite safely be placed in the hands of children) residence that she ‘couldn't swing a cat in it.’ I replied, of course, that there was no necessity to swing cats, and that a much more expeditious method of disposing of such animals was by means of a pail of water, a good sized brick, and a piece of string. Furthermore Mrs Samuel asserted that she felt ‘cramped,’ whereupon I recommended hot flannels. But all this badinage (badinage, by-the-way, is said to be bad in age, but much worse in youth. Kindly paste that fact in your hat, facetious sir) had no effect; on moving Mrs S. was determined, and, oh, sir, what I have suffered since such a decision was arrived at. A new house having been found (I will relate to you how it was found anon), the direful preparations began. Mrs Samuel said that she would see that everything was ‘packed up.’ She began by rooting up carpets, tearing down pictures, leaving packages – which I fell over, to the damage of my shins – about the staircases, and rendering the house generally uninhabitable. I subsequently found that the good lady had packed up with a vengeance – I found that my best silk hat had been placed in a hamper containing jam, pickles, broom heads, blacking pots and brushes, dusters and flat-irons. For safety, no doubt, my dress suit was enclosed in a covering of flour bags, and three pairs of unblacked boots had been neatly enclosed in a clean bolster.

‘Sin-shin. Tra-la-la!’

I personally interviewed the furniture removal man. I besought him to use great care in the removal of my chattels. ‘Care,’ said he; ‘why, we shan't even brush a cobweb hoff, our men is that tender with furniture.’ I might possibly have believed him, had I not turned suddenly round and found him making masonic signs to one of his hirelings, who was at the time sucking a short black pipe prior to commencing operations. When he was discovered, the ‘gaffer’ of course scratched his nose absent-mindedly. One thing I soon found out, and that was that furniture removal men have as fine and large a thirst upon them as any class of men in the community – not even excepting militia and forgemen. I went and stood outside my dismantled domicile, sir, and I watched the operations. First of all I could see that my neighbours took a lively, though semi-concealed interest in our movement. There were nine heads behind the curtains at number thirteen opposite, and old Miss Nosepoker three doors off on the same side of the road must have had a stiff neck ever since through her exertions in trying to look round a corner. I hope that my furniture satisfied their judgment. I am afraid that it did not, for there were palpable signs (such as the violent agitation of the window curtains) of animation whenever a three-legged chair or an infirm ‘dresser’ came out. The removers seemed, to do them credit, to work with one settled plan of action – they seemed, in fact, to be perfect artistes in the work of putting everything you would have immediate occasion to use in the least accessible portion of their vans.

‘Hi, hi, Master, don’t drop the baby.’

Of course it began to rain – it always does when one's drawing-room suite is being removed. Perhaps you’ve never noticed that – I have. The removal contractor was evidently short-handed (I afterwards found that he was tight-fisted also), and, when a gigantic mangle – the gift of my aunt Screwger – was being dragged along, carrying with it in its elephantine progress parts of doors, bits of wainscotting, and whole dollops off the wooden stairs, I put my shoulder to the wheel, by which I mean to the mangle. I was told when doing the ‘feat of strong’ I have mentioned to ‘gee hup.’ I ‘gee'd’ down instead – down the kitchen stairs and right into a basket of crockery ware. But I persisted in my efforts, and I got on all right till we reached the pavement, and then I unfortunately let go just as Dr. Pepper, a neighbour, was passing. He danced like a delirious acrobat, and said he'd make me smart for having injured his shin-bone. I quite inadvertently remarked that he needn't make such a shin-dy about his shin-bone. And then he swore more than ever, and insisted that I was adding insult to injury, which must make up a nice addition sum if you do it on a slate. I know that he'll bring an action against me, for he is hard up. He has been a bankrupt, and his certificate has been suspended - they ought to have suspended him whilst they were about it – but I wander from the subject.

‘A nice cup of tea!’

Well, sir, the rain came down in torrents, and I believe that the van would have swum (what a rare mouthful that word is) if I hadn't had as much ballast on. The bedding was in a precious state, I can tell you. And some of my goods wouldn't come out by the door, so the contractor suggested that they should be slung out of the first floor windows. They were slung out, and with a run too. A chest of drawers came down with a rush, and nothing is left of it but the drawer ‘nobs.’ The front garden seemed to be planted with cups, saucers, pickle jars, cradles, stew-pans, and wringing machines, and a very nice crop it was. Several passers-by took a lively interest in the proceedings – they voluntarily assisted in the removal, and I have never seen the articles they removed since. Mud, straw, and broken chimney ornaments littered the hall, and my own particular ‘den’" was tenanted exclusively by dilapidated, mouldy hampers and packing cases. At last I went to the new domicile with one of the vans. We had no accidents by the way, save that we dropped a sideboard or two on the road. There were two houses, of precisely similar build, that were unlet immediately adjoining our new residence. All the furniture came in at last, that is all the furniture except the cat and the baby (I suppose that there was no room for them in the vans), and my eldest son, who rather prides himself on his gentility, was sent for them. He didn't like it – he met several lady acquaintances on the road. He carried the baby on one arm and the cat in a basket on the other. Little boys on the road remarked him – they have what is called ‘a habbit’ of doing that sort of thing. They asked him ‘Who stole the cat,’ and sang ‘it's nice to be a father.’ The baby yelled dismally in spite of my son’s ‘ch-ch-ing’ for its amusement[,] in spite of his calling it a ‘pity ickle sing[;]’ and the cat mewed in a way that was anything but a amewsing. My son got so disgusted at last that he put the baby in the basket with the cat. Both suffered; the baby looks as though it had been groomed down with a steel comb, and the cat has gone bald in patches. The baby must have lots o' ‘pluck’ about it, judging by the appearance of the cat's fur.

“Yah, it’s a bogey.’

It was dark when we all found ourselves in our new tenement. What a picture it was to be sure. The gas fittings had not been adjusted, and our only light was furnished by a half-penny candle stuck in the mouth of an empty ginger-beer bottle. Mrs Samuel was cross and nasty; my eldest son used must unbecoming language, all the children howled in deafening concert, the servant girl said that she had been ‘put on shameful,’ and gave notice on the spot, and we were all desperately hungry. A meal was suggested. What a meal that was. The table cloth was a copy of your invaluable journal, sir, and we grouped ourselves in attitudes more or less picturesque – generally speaking, less picturesque – around it, but nothing in the way of provender could be found. As for cups and saucers, knives and plates, they had gone astray – even the tray had gone astray, I might say – and I was compelled to drink a miserably weak edition of tea gravy out of a mustard pot. My eldest boy who sat gracefully on his haunches on the floor, monopolised the only cup, and I was compelled to use a quill pen as a fork – I do not fork-get the fact. Seated on a disused cocoa-box, which would have been fairly comfortable if it hadn't been for a refractory nail, I did all the justice I could to a raw, cold muffin and some brawn, and, stirring my tea with a pipe stopper, determined to make the best of the circumstances. Just at that moment there was a bang at the door, and, the door having been ‘answered’ (it is a thing you can safely answer back is a door), in rushed an obese man, who was, as I soon found, the landlord, ‘Why,’ shouted he, ‘you've been and gone and moved into the wrong house! This is number seven, and you took number nine, next door.’ Oh, sir, do you not at this juncture shed the tear of sympathy. Do you not condole with your Samuel? Through an unfortunate error, we had moved into the wrong house. What I have endured, to be sure. My lodging was on the cold ground that night, for nobody could find a bedkey [spanner]. And to make matters worse, we had no blinds, and had to fasten up sheets with two-pronged forks – which forks we, with much difficulty, found amongst a parcel of nick-nacks – in the windows, and my son Benjamin, who had twisted a blanket round himself for warmth, happening to look out between two of these sheets, so frightened a young man of the masher type [conceited, overdressed] who was passing that he had a fit on the gravel walk. Dear, dear me, these have been ‘drefful times, which they 'ave, and no error.’ Nothing is in its right place even yet, no, not even the cat, which has just been pulled out of the oven in a state of suffocation. I have got a bill as long as your arm for moving. And all my furniture is in fragments, and I believe that I've been and gone and stuck the wrong legs on to the wrong sofas. And, as for the piano, it sounds as though it had a saw-pit in its inside.

Last modified 27 January 2022