Wednesday, 27 August 2008

'Books do furnish a room'- Anthony Powell

...and don't they just.

When Sy and me first talked about him moving in, i stupidly thought it would all be quite straight forward. Clothes (in a couple of bin bags), Pens, paper...a laptop probably.

Plenty of room in my little two bedroom house for these few extras.

He never mentioned the books.

The morning he was due to bring all his belongings over, i was watching out of the window for his little black car, terribly excited and ready to welcome Sy and his bits into the house.

A transit van pulled up outside and i rushed outside to ask the driver to park a bit further down the was Sy driving the van.

Ok...maybe a couple more bin bags wouldn't make too much difference.

Sy climbed out the van and swung the back doors of the van open.

No sign of any bin bags- in fact no bits or pieces at all. Just a van full of books. And i mean full. from the floor to the roof, books of every shape and size were squeezed, pushed, stacked and crammed. Not only was i expected to help get this lot out, but find homes for them all once they made it through my front door.

Well, it took about three hours, but get them through the front door we did. And then they sat in the living room for the next three weeks. And up the stairs...and in our bedroom, kitchen...even the airing cupboard was a mini library for about a week.

I was astounded at the different uses you could find for a stack of books.

Depending on the height, a stack could double up as the following;

A handy coffee table.

A cat bed.

A table to eat off.

A footstool.

A step ( not really advised..)

A display stand for a bouquet of flowers (bought them myself btw).

One other thing i noticed....the smell.

The older the book the more it smelt. I think i got through at least four cans of Febreeze that first week.

Writers are incredibly precious about their books. Sy gave me a list of rules regarding book things pertaining to him.

1; I must never go through his books with a view to recycling any.It makes no difference how many copies of one particular book there is-he will need all of them, all the time.

2; I must never lend any of his books out. My Jilly Cooper are an exception to this rule.

3; If there is a mountain of books on the floor, i must not move them.They will all be relevant to whatever he is working on at the time.

4; If i see a book sale advertised anywhere within a fifty mile radius, i must be sure to let him know.

In writing.

At least a week beforehand.

I took these on board. Never let it be said that i'm not accommodating.

'I forgot to mention', says Sy. 'There are a few more books at my parents...'

'How many exactly?' Says I.

'Three, four hundred...they're all in the loft'.

And they are still there, i can tell you.

Our home is now wonderfully soundproofed, courtesy of my handy next-door neighbour, who is a dab-hand with DIY shelving units. In fact, we have a library in most of the rooms now, and so the books have furnished the room(s).

Sy's clothes and bits and bobs?

One bin bag, thirty cd's, laptop.
And a teapot.
Don't ask.

Till next time.

Shakespeare's Housekeeper. xx


  1. I am a writer whose wife is threatening a 'one book in, one book out' policy.
    Please don't follow her bad example!

  2. Dear Martin,
    I couldn't do that to writers need all of your books, all of the time!

    Us writers wives have to accommodate accordingly...


Your words are every bit as important as Mr Shakespeares.
Put some of them together, and leave me a comment...but don't worry if it takes me a few days to get round to reading them- i have nine jobs and a writer who needs me!

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