Recently I’ve been on a decluttering drive. I go through phases where I feel suffocated by the piles of stuff I accumulate. So, I thin it out. I pare everything back to the essentials, so I can see clearly, and hear my own thoughts without the pressure of those unread books and magazines, and the un-filed bills nagging at my mind.
This time it’s been a steady pogrom in different areas of the house. I’ve cleared out my closets in a ruthless and hard-hearted fashion: if the clothes didn’t fit then they were donated to someone who could use them. Old dishes and useless pots were ejected from the kitchen. I’ve fecked out all the old cosmetics and drabs of shampoo from the bathroom cabinet.
I’ve reorganised my files, and my office desk is clear for the first time in six months. I’m actually paying attention to the garden and the flowering pots for the first time in far too long.
Now, I’m eyeing up the books and graphic novels.
Sure, I love you, but there are so many of you now, and you’re all competing for attention, because you know I can’t be let into a bookshop or convention’s dealer’s room without committing adultery. Aye, I’m faithless. All it takes is the name of a favourite author on a paperback, or a stunning cover flirting with me with its streamlined space ships, fetching heroine, or abstract suggestion of coolness for my resolve to vanish. I forget the books at home, with their patient saintly affection, and pick up a gaggle of floosies and gigolos and trip back home with them.
The interlopers think they have it made for a while as they lord it over the other books from the top of the tottering precipice I call the to-be-read stack. Soon, they too discover the muffling heartbreak of dust and neglect.
I can’t take your forbearance any more. It’s the second-hand bookshop for ye. Well, some of you. The reference books are staying. In fact, I need to organise them so they’re all together and within easy access.
But, the blocks of tsking fiction will be culled. Honestly, how likely is it that I’m going to re-read you? Don’t give me those doe-eyes! Yes, we had good times together (well, except for that hideous Laurell K Hamilton novel that gave me a suspicious rash within the first 70 pages), but I hardly have the time to read the newcomers, don’t mind re-visiting old texts.
Well, of course I won’t be getting rid of you, lovely Watership Down. I’ve had you for a lifetime, and your yellow pages and creased cover testify to the strength of our commitment. And, no of course I won’t be shipping off the collected works of Shakespeare, that has hand-written notes in it from several members of my family dating from secondary school and college.
In fact, I am already totting up a large number of exceptions – damn the memories pressed into the pages!
Still, the rest of you… be warned. I’m resolved!