Last Saturday I dropped by my old house, where my daughter now lives, to load up on books. She’s fixing up the place a treat while putting my books away in boxes. I have always enjoyed reading and have worked my way through many thousands of books over my life (mostly what my old English-teacher would have described as ‘tripe’). Right now, I’m at the side of Attila in Costain’s ‘The Darkness and the Dawn’ (1959) riding comfortably on my boney steed into battle against the Romans.
What with the wonders of the Internet – preparing and writing Business over Tapas, entertaining myself with YouTube and posting pithy poppycock on Facebook – I don’t have the same amount of time as before to spend on the couch with a book.
Plus there are the real-life horses that I look after, that need watering, feeding, exercising and so on.
For the leisure hours, there’s the TV as well, but I hardly ever watch it beyond checking the headlines on Wednesday evening. I can’t keep up with the films for very long – maybe they don’t make them for people like me: old, deaf and cynical. Oh, and the good thing about books? No commercial interruptions!
There’s one good bookshop in our city – I live on the edge of Almería – and I go there for a treat once or twice a year, blowing and wheezing gently through my face mask as I negotiate the stairs into the basement. It' called El Picasso and it has an odd collection of books in English: some Shakespeare and Dickens plus a few slightly peculiar classics - like Dana’s ‘Two Years before the Mast’, mixed up with some science fiction, Steven King and several trilogies with the first or second part inevitably missing, probably sold to someone on a brief visit to our fair city.
When not sorting through their selection, with most of the spines of the books upside-down (the Spanish print theirs the other way round from us) meaning one has to crick one’s head to the left rather than the right… until one comes to a book which has been replaced on the shelf by a previous customer, thus making one look slightly eccentric, nodding this way and that at the truncated trilogies.
The average book is priced on the far side of ten euros, so I prefer to visit a charity shop when on a visit to Mojácar. There I can find four or even six books for a euro, which ain’t bad. Indeed, there’s currently a large plastic bag full of them on the floor by my window.
But why bother, when there are all those boxes of books at the old house?