I love books. I collect them. What's wrong with that, huh? Nothing. But Hubby doesn’t agree. He’s “sick” of having to tiptoe through tottering towers of paperbacks to get from one side of the room to the other.
Let me explain. I'm like cat woman. I don't mean the Cat Woman, I mean the elderly neighbour who takes in abandoned cats when nobody wants them. I'm like that with books. People who don't want them bring them to me. And I can't say no.
I’ve read some fascinating stories which I wouldn’t normally have chosen. For instance, this one by Auberon Waugh (Haven't heard of him? Neither had I.) The back section was mouldy, so I had to tear it off. Then I got into the story - it's really funny - but because I'd removed the back pages, I now won’t know the ending.
I've discovered Elizabeth Taylor (the author not the actress), South Riding by Winifred Holtby, Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay, Mr and Mrs Bridge by Evan S. Connell, and The Liars' Club by Mary Karr, etcetera, etcetera ...
My books are breeding like rabbits. And I'm having to hide them from Hubby. I stack them behind curtains and in the bottom of cupboards. It doesn't help that I go to this charity emporium called Emmaus (I'm in France) and all the expats who are going back to the UK dump their books there – thousands of them. Since the French folk are not interested in English books, I have the place to myself. It's just ME! The added bonus is, the books are only 20 centimes each, so I come away with bags and bags and bags.
Last Saturday, my Hubby finally went berserk (his voice went up an octave) so I promised I would donate my books back to Emmaus.
Problem is, it's not easy donating to Emmaus - it's such a rigmarole of parking, queueing, then handing your stuff to the right person. So, instead, I sidled into the book section and secretly put the books back on the shelves. (Imagine yourself going into your high street bookshop, buying up twenty books, going home, reading them and then tiptoeing back into the shop to surreptiously put them back on the shelves).
I have to go. Hubby has found a cache behind the boiler and he doesn’t sound too happy...
Right, I’ve just got back from “having a word”.
Hubby told me the books are no joke. He said: "It’s intellectual clutter. It’s stultifying, suffocating." He said I’m like one of these eccentric old men in tartan slippers who hoard and don’t answer the door. Then, when Social Services do break in, they find him dead on the floor with his flat filled to the ceiling with piles of newspapers.
Hubby’s description gave me a cold chill. Is that how he thinks of me? Is that how I'm going to end up? But I don’t want to be that old man in tartan slippers!