Friday, 24 June 2011
Confessions of a hoarder
Hoarding books is a hobby of mine. I have books from the 70s, 80s and 90s, spine-creased, worn, torn and tattered but still loved. No matter how hard I try to let go of them, just like redundant boyfriends, I simply can’t part with them. I have my Enid Blyton collection neatly packed away just in case I want to read ‘Five Go To Smuggler’s Top’, the Mallory Towers set to fondly remind me of my school years, and The Secret Seven, in case I feel like indulging in a little detective work. And there’s the Nancy Drew collection, in case I suddenly aspire to be like Nancy and want a few tips from her on becoming a heroine. And the crème de la crème is my Anne of Green Gables box set which was purchased in America – my pride and joy.
It’s not just my own books I hoard. On one or two occasions, I’ve borrowed books from friends only to conveniently ‘forget’ to give them back. I innocently add them to my collection. On several occasions, the friend has simply not pursued the case of the missing book. Others have said: ‘Just keep it, Gillian. Don’t worry, I’ve read it.’ Now I don’t know whether they were just being polite or not, but I always took this at face value. Samuel Beckett’s More Pricks Than Kicks springs to mind as a borrowed book. I’m don’t think a kleptomanic, honestly. Or am I? No, I always ask before borrowing.
However, I’m the person who, when staying in a hotel, will trawl the room to see what I can get away with ‘borrowing’ – from the robe to the nice shower gel. In cheap hotels, they appear to fasten the large shampoo bottle to the bathroom wall, and guests have to make do with a few pump action shots! How unfair. I prefer the establishments which let you ‘borrow’ the Molton Brown bottles, soaps and shower caps. Confession – I still have the sewing kit from a hotel in Mauritius. Have I ever stolen books from hotels? No. Not even from a hotel in Prague which boasted a rather robust library in which one could browse freely.
But I do love to hoard and often refuse to share just in case the friend genuinely forgets to give me it back. That would hurt me a lot. It would be like losing a child. If someone asks me if they can borrow one of my books, I’ll politely forget once. If they ask a second time, I’ll hand it over, but closely monitor the situation until it’s handed back. What’s the most appropriate time frame to expect a book to be returned – one week, two weeks, or for the slow reader, two months? I have a huge collection but please don’t ask to borrow any of my books as your request may well fall on deaf ears.