There are six bags filled with my books waiting to be taken to the school in which I was teaching last week. Each one represents a chunk of my life and is filled with books that I should not be getting rid of. Even if the books are going to a place where there is a real likelihood that they will be useful and be used. It is still difficult to give away something that has been part of your life for so long.
The truly worrying thing is that, even though I have now filled more than ten big supermarket shopping bags with books it appears to have made little impression on the overcrowding of my shelves! My now pathetic belief that I would be able to get rid of sufficient books to have a single line of them on the shelves now seems like an impossible dream!
I feel like the Angel of Death as my pitiless eye roams across each line of books on each vulnerable shelf seeking the victims for the bags. As I have said the urgent necessity to winnow because of lack of room is convincing but the pain is still real!
What is far more disturbing is that after the next batch of books I am sure that the school will be grateful but panicky that I might actually be preparing to give them even more and they will be desperately sorry but they will not be able to accept a single book extra!
Still, the action that I have taken so far encourages me to carry on and take advantage of the impetus of my clearing urge and be more ruthless.
At the moment many of my books are hidden through chaos and the dispersion of similar volumes throughout my collection. My holdings of Evelyn Waugh seem to have gone on their own personal diaspora and turn up next to the oddest volumes which have nothing to do with twentieth century literature whatsoever. But at least I have now discovered more of them in their disparate locations than have come together since they were all on their shelves in Kennerleigh Road in Cardiff!
The more I think of the number of volumes that I have taken out and their slight impact on my total holdings, the more extraordinary my book collection becomes. I think that “Out with some of the old and in with a lot of the new” will have to be my slogan for the next few weeks. Even if the school pleads respite from my insistent generosity, I think that I will have to find an alternative victim for the unwanted (how grotesque a word that seems) volumes to allow some semblance of order to return to the battle of the books in my library.
And life goes on. The OU occupies a pleasing amount of space in my concerns, though if I am absolutely truthful I cannot say that I have been charting new intellectual territories, rather paddling gratefully in mildly interesting shallows. I fear this may be the lull before the storm as there is the Dreaded Wiki to be produced.
As far as I can work out the Wiki is simply a web page that has to be produced by a group of distance learners over a period of time and then, when it is completed we have, individually, to write a “reflection” on the project. I though that the whole point of distance learning was that one did everything by oneself. I am not sure that I wholeheartedly approve of this collaborative malarkey. I am sure that the Grocer of Grantham would not approve. If she is still capable of making these sorts of value decisions.
The wholesale “Doing” of the house continues apace with Toni in an especially manic mood. He can put up with only just so much disorder and then there is a reaction to match the scale, say, of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia to “put things right.”
The Third Floor has been transformed from a sinister labyrinth of four-dimensional material chaos into a pleasant working space with tearoom. How this has happened I have no real idea, but I do know that I have been involved in its transformation and my exhaustion is plain proof of that!
One of my parts in this clean up has been to get some order into the hundreds of CDs that have not been put away. I hade the almost fatal mistake of buying various CD holders from the Chinese shops on the grounds that I wasn’t going to throw money away on the over-priced main store versions. But throw away money I did, as the quality of the ones that I bought was no poor that I have had to buy more expensive alternatives. Ah well, if nothing else I have had sort-of fun in sorting through CDs that I had forgotten that I possessed!
The “fun” part had well and truly gone after an hour or so, but it took a damn sight longer than that to get some sort of order into the shop worth of discs that I had to sort out.
I am rather pleased by the final result. A row of rather severe black cases at the top of each the carrying strap flopping outwards give a look of an ancient chained library – a touch of class I feel. The gaudy Chinese rubbish has been jettisoned!
There is nothing more poignant than buying two prong foreign plugs to replace the good old stalwart rugged three pin “correct” plugs on machines bought in the UK to demonstrate one’s acceptance of a new country. Cutting the lead to put on a different plug is a statement about staying!
Tomorrow, another visit to the employment office after my little stint in school. Even though the authorities know perfectly well what you have been doing, they like to see you personally so that they can give you photocopied and stamped pieces of paper.
In a rather more pressing sense I am acutely aware that I am supposed to be going to the UK on Friday and I haven’t even worked out which case to take, let alone packing anything.