I have never been a Telly Addict, preferring to while away my hours with nose close to page, developing my mind to take me to lands far away, wild kingdoms and magical space odysseys. Now I buy them, read them, and find it physically impossible to dispose of them. I have tried all routes; charity shops, book swapping on the net, eBay, all with little luck as I feel unable to pass them over, like children, I clutch them close to me and worry about their futures. I may lend them out to close friends, but give them away? Never!
But when it comes to storing my treasure trove of interesting tomes, I struggle. They collect, like pools of rain water, in interesting places, squeezing into nooks and crannies faster than multiplying bacteria. Wobbly piles of high things form, teetering precariously in any available floor space, and become home to other rubbish, like carefully balanced tea cups and glasses of water. It really is like a library for the wombles, and I love it. Bookcases spring up in unusual places to home my creative collection, and new additions gradually wear, with pages folded down and covers bent, but always lovingly thumbed, providing endless entertainment for the long hours I spend poring through them. Their spines fill with sand from reading on the beach, their pages wrinkle with the familiar drops of rainwater when caught in the downpour at the bus stop, and they begin to adopt that familiar smell, of love, and book. Friends learn to love them too, marvelling at how the characters spring to life and made them cry, or scared, or made them angry when they watched the film. Like parts of my life, old friends protect me in sadness and celebrate in joy, and every time I move house are packed carefully and make the journey too.
So upon moving home with my dad, I was disappointed to see that this isn’t a trait I have inherited from him. “What’s all this junk?” I heard. “Where are you going to put all this rubbish?” Sorry? My loved possessions were being classed along the same lines as DVDs and old videos, like old clothes and half used candles. What a cheek! After reverting back to my ten-year old princess self, I humped my books up to my teeny tiny childhood bedroom, and started about finding homes for each and every one of them. Some, like old teddies and baby shoes, were boxed up with care and attention, packed with dust sheets and securely taped up, and put into the loft. Others took pride of place on shelves, and yet, I noticed a familiar tall pile of wobbly high things forming behind the door, like a fancy installation piece would be assembled in the Tate modern. My books!
And as I wondered down the stairs, content that every last one had a home, I noticed something that made my heart feel a little fuzzy, and my step a little lighter. Nestled in a dark corner on the bookcase at the bottom of the stairs, amongst books on fishing, football and country cooking, was a little set of children’s books that my dad had lovingly preserved since my childhood. Through house moves and divorces, my books had remained safe from the charity shop bag. So maybe we aren’t so different after all ….