Our spare room is unmanageable. I have been in denial but finally I am prepared to accept it. It has become the dumping ground for the excesses of my obsessions. Mostly books, but also music; my old record collection is shelved here and also CDs but mostly it is the books, everywhere the books.
I have resisted Christine’s suggestion that if I can’t part with them I should pack them into boxes and store them up in the loft.
‘If I do that,’ I argue, ‘I may as well not have them, if I can’t get to them, if they are not accessible.’
‘Then you need to choose,’ she says. ‘I know it is difficult but you can’t and you won’t re-read them all and so you have to decide which ones you can’t live without and lose the rest.’
Of course, she is right but here they are. When the rest of our house can’t cope this is where I bring them. This is where the debris falls.
I have been in here for half an hour at least, searching for a copy of ‘The Great Gatsby’. I bought it two?, three?, I don’t know how many years ago. But I haven’t read it and now I want to and now I can’t find it.
I began by sorting and sifting through the books just inside the room, those closest to the door, slowly pushing forward and piling them on top of those stacked in front of the shelves on the far wall, which are now almost entirely obstructed.
I stand in front of this ungainly tower and desperately scour the spines just in case I have missed it but it isn’t there.
I hear Christine on the stairs.
‘What are you doing in there?’ she calls.
‘Looking for a book.’
‘The Great Gatsby,’ I mumble.
The books are lodged tightly in the alcove. I reach for one, the spine creased and faded and I can’t read it. I try to work it loose and as I do the others begin to topple.