“I’m returning these” I say, heaving a wobbly stack of children’s books onto the library reception desk, “I know we’ve left a couple at home, which I’d like to renew please.” The librarian starts scanning barcodes then turns to me disapprovingly “You owe us £4.20 and you have a lot of books at home, 20 actually.” I’m sure there’s been some mistake, we can’t have lost twenty library books on our shelves, I know we have a lot of books, but that’s just ridiculous.
I head home determined to prove the grumpy librarian wrong. We can’t possibly have twenty library books hidden at home can we? Turns out we can, and we do. Sheepishly, I pull library book after library book off shelves, groaning with our own titles.
It’s beginning to dawn on me that we have too many books, and not only books. Looking around our house, I realise that we have too much of everything, too many toys, too many clothes, too much furniture. All this, despite my twice yearly argh-can’t-stand-it-any-more clear out and charity shop run. And we are not the kind of couple you’ll find dragging tired, whiny kids around a soul sapping shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon. Shopping as recreation doesn’t really feature in our lives, unless you count a sneaky solo trip to Waitrose while the other half is putting the children to bed.
How liberating will it be to possess only what we can carry for nine months? My guess is very. No decisions about what to wear, beyond sniffing to establish cleanliness. A break from the endless sorting of cars, lego, playmobil, dinosaurs and power rangers into their respective buckets. No rifling through the bathroom cupboard searching for a new tube of toothpaste but finding only six toothbrushes. And no more losing library books. I’m still looking for the last two. Has anyone seen them?