A post from the plane…24 July

Maybe 1/10th of my stuff. (Possibly only 1/20th actually!)

I started out with the intention to send in regular posts from my overseas trip in July/August of this year. I always start out with good intentions. I only got as a far as a writing a post on the Sydney – Seoul part of my journey about the horrible period leading up to going o/s. Having to move after a decade and sorting out the result of being a serial hoarder almost broke me.

Writing on the plane was supposed to be a bit cathartic. It wasn’t. I decided to shutdown the netbook and grab a vodka & tonic and veg out. Pretty much what I do every time I have to do longhaul flights. Anyway, here is a post I wrote on 24 July this year up in the air…

“It’s about an hour and twenty minutes into the flight and I’m just starting to relax a bit. The last couple of months have been amongst the most stressful of my life. All precipitated by the owner of the flat I rent(ed) and his need to sell the place.

One simple phone call from the real estate agent started a crazy roller coaster ride which continues to this day. Never has the phrase “I need a holiday!” been more apt. The idea to go to Stockholm for Pride week originated months ago but the holiday now seems like a last-minute circuit breaker than anything else.

Moving house is supposed to be one of the top life-stressing events but the stress is magnified when you’re a massive hoarder like I am. And when your solution to cleaning up is to throw miscellaneous crap into plastic crates, you end up with a massive amount of crates after a decade. And a massive amount of crap that needs to be sorted and culled.

Add to that a storage centre unit full of stuff that was quite relevant 14 years ago but is now outdated, outmoded and mostly falls into the category of “Why the hell did I keep that? What the hell was I thinking?”

Into this mix you can throw the fact that rents around my area have risen massively since I moved in a decade ago. And they continue to rise. Paying almost half my salary to rent a bog standard 1 or 2 bedroom flat – with the distinct possibility of a further increase in rent every six months – did not seem a realistic option. The Sydney rental market is completely insane.

Which is how I ended up sleeping on an inflatable “camp bed” in Yoda’s second bedroom (formerly his office until I showed up). The room I am sleeping in is packed full of crates of my stuff – a Stonehenge of storage crates if you like. There’s another storage centre with a unit that contains about 60 moving boxes and plastic crates of my stuff. And a separate unit that has bookcases, filing cabinets and so on.

I need to point out that this is what remains after weeks of severely sorting and culling my stuff. James and Yoda have been helping me sort the wheat from the chaff. Although at times it felt like sorting deckchairs on the Titanic as it was sinking. Without their help I would be well and truly sunk by now – and that isn’t a joke.

Over the last month we have organised 3 council clean ups, Salvation Army and Smith Family collections and even a last minute “Cheapest Load of Rubbish” visit to get rid of 25 bags of rubbish that wouldn’t fit into the – already overflowing with my refuse – bins at the back of my former block of flats.

It took two separate removalist moves over the space of a week as well as Grant driving a rented ute with a cage two facilitate the exit of JudgeG from his HQ of a decade. Not to mention a number of walking trips from the flat to Grant’s place using a hand trolley packed with…well, more of my stuff.

The whole thing seemed a bridge too far for me at times. I held it together mostly but did break down and have a good cry a few times during the final days. The crying should have been cathartic but it wasn’t. It didn’t make the move go away – it just delayed the torture for a few minutes each time. I’ve heard there are worse hoarders than me but, after the last month and a half, I doubt James & Yoda would believe that 😉

While all this was happening, Yoda and I went to an open inspection of a flat that we both really liked and could imagine living in. We just went for a sticky beak because we were around when the building went up years ago and wanted to see inside. Who came up with the idea “why don’t we see if we could get a loan and buy it?” Me? Yoda? Both?

The idea would have stopped right there – at the pie-in-the-sky stage – if someone had told us what a nightmare we were letting ourselves in for. Yoda had done this once before – almost two decades ago – and it seemed a very linear, sensible – if somewhat cumbersome – process back then.

Our experience over the last 6 weeks has been nothing like that. It has been one drama after another, one setback after another. That old bank advert where the customer is expected to jump through a hoop of fire – think that and double it. Even right down to the real estate agent quitting his job and not telling us right at the point we were to make an offer on the place. He just disappeared without trace – no messages or emails acknowledged or returned.

I’d like to tell you about the specific structural problems in the building we’re trying to buy into but it would cause me to cry – or to jump out of this very lovely plane. The building reports just remind me of that horrible 80s movie “The Money Pit” which I only saw on the insistence of one of my ex-boyfs. He ended up hating it too.

In beginning this process I realised we’d be caught in the middle of mortgage brokers, inspection companies, lawyers, real estate agents and banks. I just assumed it might all be a bit more sensible and streamlined. After all, people do it all the time, don’t they?

As at 2pm yesterday, Yoda and I were still at the lawyers trying to clean up shit. I was supposed to be on a “day off” getting ready for my trip. No such luck – that had to wait until last night. I finished some time around 1 or 2am. I had to be up at 4.45am. And I didn’t sleep well for those few hours – too much on my mind. So, with effectively 90 minutes sleep, I was up again to get ready for this plane trip.

Which brings me right back to the beginning of this post. Hoping to begin a mental detox program so that I can face a resumption of the ongoing saga of where to live. And yet another possible move.


There’s soooo much more to tell – and I remember every last detail. But right now I need to do something else…attract the hostess’ attention…

“Excuse me, another vodka & tonic please!”


A big shout out to Andy, the birthday boy!

The braces are gone!

The braces are well and truly gone. And he’s not a sweet teen anymore. But he is having a birthday.

A wonderful friend, Andy Andrews, is celebrating his birthday today (that’s Saturday in European time). I first knew Andy when he was just 16. In fact, I met his whole family in Nashville, Tennessee way back in 1998. Andy and I drove to Dollywood – a crazy road trip where we got lost on the way – but ended up having a blast. It really is a treasured memory.

Andy is a total class act as a person. I’m very proud to know him. So happy birthday kiddo. (even though you’re not such a kiddo anymore!)

Andy & JudgeG did Dollywood in the 90s!

Okay, so I haven’t updated the site for a while!

King of the nags!

My BSF (Best Swedish Friend) Gustav, sent me a very unsubtle text message overnight about the fact that thebestjudge.com hasn’t been updated for eons. Nag, nag, nag!

Okay, so I admit I have been slack. I actually have been writing lots of posts in my head…but they never quite get transferred to the computer keyboard. Some really good ones too. Now disappeared into the mists of time. Or drowned in a schooner of Cascade Light!

Plus there’s been soooooo much going on since I got back from Sweden & England. And I was sick for the first two weeks back. So really….make lack of posting is all quite justifiable.

None of that cuts any slack with the Swedish Nagzilla of course. He’s merciless. Now of course I’m feeling guilty because I can’t do a James O’Brien and update my site 8 days a week!

Cos this is my life, my friend….oh god, I’m having an Anna Bergendahl moment! Jeez, she was as boring as bat’s poop in Melodifestivalen this year but won the contest and then sunk like a lead weight at Eurovision. Still, she was fabulous at Stockholm Pride this year. The crowd went nuts. She was overcome with the reaction. So was I actually.

So anyway Gustav, you ole nag…just call me Anna Bergendahl….one day I’ll get back into the swing of updating this thing regularly…one day…

Flashing back to Sverige

My lovely friend Patrick B alerted me to the photos he took of Sweden when he and his friend Sam were there in June. He’s just uploaded them to that F-Book site that must not be mentioned. But you don’t have to sign up to see the wonderful pictures.


I saw that Patrick had been at Allsång Pa Skansen and had taken some pics there. Lucky bastard. It got me flashing back to my time in Stockholm – six weeks ago by now – and I ended up doing a search on Youtube for Allsång På Skansen performances.

Firstly I came across the gorgeous Måns Zelmerlöw performing his Melodifestivalen entry from last year, “Hope & Glory”

Then I came across the performance that Patrick had seen at Allsång…Eric Saade performing “Manboy”. This song has been ginormous in Sweden and should have represented the country in Eurovision this year.

And finally, there’s a fab video of a couple of gorgeous little Swedish kids dancing while Eric was doing his rehearsal performance on stage at Allsång.

Well, it isn’t summer in Stockholm anymore. And I’m well and truly back in Sydney. But my own memories of Stockholm this year are still strong.

JudgeG in Gamla Stan, August 2010