12 September 2022


I am writing this blogpost in our study on what is now our old Dell P.C.. Bang next to me is a large pine bookcase that we had made twenty or more years ago to fit the space. The bookcase is now bursting with books two deep. I must admit that I have a psychological problem when it comes to offloading books. I just can't get rid of them.

On the sixth shelf down there is a "book" with a three inch brown spine. Actually, it looks rather like an old photo album. It has been within touching distance of this keyboard for the last thirteen years and yet in all that time I never inspected it until this past weekend.

It was given to me by my immediate colleagues when I left the secondary school where I was The Head of English and Assistant Head and where I worked for twenty two years. Perhaps they imagined that when they put the book together with its photographs and writings that I would pore over it that very weekend but it has literally taken me thirteen years to check it out.

In one or two future blogposts I plan to share some of its contents.

In other news, some visitors may be interested to learn that I managed to sell my brother's Mercedes van last week. I confess that it had been like a millstone round my neck. I ended up re-taxing it and buying a week's insurance before driving it to a "we buy and car" unit in Beverley, East Yorkshire. The price I achieved was over £500 more than the offers I got from a local garage and an organisation called The Car Buying Group. I had no appetite for selling the van privately even though I was fully aware that I might make a better price on it that way. It was worth reminding myself that I personally will gain no profit from this sale. It's gone and I can breathe a sigh of relief. Now on to the next death-related hassle.


  1. When you finally opened the book, were you sad that you left it so long? was it full of now irrelevant in-jokes?
    I'm glad you sold the van, getting it taxed was always the way to go

  2. So how much guilt do you feel for not looking at this gift. Has anybody asked you about it? Okay the post on it should be interesting.

  3. Well at least the van is sold, that's a good thing. I tend to go through purges every now and then, some books survive, some don't.

  4. I, too, cannot get rid of my books. Ever.

  5. I share the same psychological problem of not being able to off load things especially books. Congratulations on selling the van YP.

  6. Well done on selling the van! It must be such a relief.
    Interesting that you were never curious about the contents of the parting gift from your colleagues. What has changed now?

  7. That looks like a good sturdy bookshelf. The type I would have if I could afford to have them made. I'm glad you finally got rid of the van.

  8. Anonymous8:34 am

    I know you and I are not the types but I wonder what would happen if in such situations as your brother's death and what followed, what would happen if we just threw our hands in the air said I can't do it and did nothing. At times I wish I was like that.

  9. I too, have a problem offloading books - and have three large bookcases stacked with books two deep. Thanks to Amazon, over the years here I've amassed quite a library to add to those books brought from the UK. I've tried the "if you haven't opened it for more than a year - throw it out" but find myself going back to the pile to rescue books I really can't part with!
    Look forward to reading about the contents of the brown book - I wonder what surprises it holds for you?

  10. I share your affliction. I custom built a huge bookcase next to my office here in our home and it is jammed with books. A third is full of excellent books I have read that I can't bear to part with, a third with books I "plan" to read someday and a third full of an assortment of books from my wife and kids, photo albums, coffee table books, etc. I've always said that if the world ends tomorrow and I find myself shut off in my house for the rest of my natural life, I won't run out of reading material.

  11. Like the lad who received a dull-looking book from his English teacher on leaving school, when he eventually opened it several decades later he found an ancient bar of chocolate hidden in a space cut through the pages.

  12. I'm curious about the book as well. I actually have a similar book that was given to my father by his colleagues when he retired. It came into my possession after my mother passed. I know I should have thrown it out when we cleaned out my mother's home but I have this vivid memory of my mother going through it with me and laughing so hard at the inside jokes, tears were rolling down her face. One of these days I will get the courage to give it the toss- but not today.

  13. It's quite telling that you've never checked out the brown book. I've never gotten the feeling that you enjoyed that job very much. Or perhaps I've just misread the lines between the lines.
    SO glad the van is off your hands and mind. Good job!

  14. I have very few books that I have kept. I am a library lover and so the books pass through my life quickly. I have enjoyed many but there are always more to enjoy. I have a small pile of 4 books that I hang onto, mostly for sentimental reasons...

  15. A volume in your pine bookcase caught my eye :
    *I Am the Secret Footballer*.
    My escape book just now is Ian Clayton's *It's the Beer Talking*.
    Clayton comes across as a hybrid of yourself and Tasker Dunham, a canty Yorkshireman from couthy Featherstone, who like myself prefers plain pubs and small spartan taprooms with bare floorboards and no large-screen TVs.
    Like me he misses Bass Pale Ale, but settles happily for hand-pulled Wilson's from Manchester.
    *I like the taste of beer, its white lather, its brass-bright depths, the wet brown walls of the glass,* he writes, quoting Dylan Thomas.

    Clayton makes a promising case for Pontefract as the centre of the civilised world.
    As you know, I look back mystically to the great days of Goole, which is to me what Luxor meant to the ancient Egyptians.
    Clayton is the Stan Barstow of our generation and sports a waggish beard.
    *In the summer that the Sex Pistols sang God Save the Queen I was coming up for my 18th birthday,* he typically begins on Page 126.
    Clayton has a pal who renovated a pub that was shuttered for two years.
    Another mate started the Saturday Afternoon Society, whose members visit lost towns & villages and drop into the best alehouse.
    This reminded me of that former steel-town you visited, its quiet streets like a closed book on English social of history.
    Do order a copy of Clayton's 260 page large paperback.
    I found my copy in the biography section of Waterstones in Glasgow.

  16. It must be a huge relief to be rid of that van. I hope no one wrote in the brown book, "Call me next week! I have something important to tell you!"

  17. My newspaper archive and a good 3500 books sometimes make Lady J. worry about the statics of the house. So I can understand you well, Neil.
    And – another coincidence – like you, I once learned to appreciate a gift from my colleagues only a few years later.
    May your 'death-related hassle(s)' soon find an end.


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