Past and Future by Barbara Nadel

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Intellectually I know that I probably have a lot more past than future now. Middle age makes you think like that. But packing up your life in preparation for moving really throws that into relief. I look at some of the items I’ve unearthed in the last few days and I wonder why I’m not in some sort of museum next to an ancient Greek sculpture of Zeus.

The other thing I’ve discovered is that I have loads and loads and loads of my own books. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve given hundreds away over the years, but there still seem to be ever more hiding under beds and on window sills. I suspect someone, or maybe more likely, a team of individuals is putting them back in my house just to hack me off. Disaffected readers who found Cetin Ikmen’s smoking unacceptable? Who are offended by Lee Arnold’s frequent resort to swearing? I don’t know, but I’m not amused.

Of course ultimately these books will have to move with us and occupy some sort of space in our new home. But where? We’re moving to a house that is large by most people’s standards, but when you’ve lived in a northern cotton workers house that is a cross between the Tardis and the Kremlin, just about anywhere else is small. Where will the books go?

A sensible person would say, ‘well put them on eBay or go to a boot fair’. I probably will, but not now, not in the thick of box packing and losing my mind to exhaustion. Gods knows I need the money but quite where to get the time from is beyond me. When I moved last time it was just as bad as this, but you put it out of your mind as soon as it’s done, a bit like the pain of child birth.

I’ve done two big, significant moves before, the last one was eight years ago, the one before that was thirty one years ago. That one I recall as being tiring, but easy. We moved with a toddler then, but we were ridiculously young then. Back in those days I could lift sacks of coal, carry all my shopping in one hand with my son held on my hip by the other arm – and I could drink men three times my size under the table.

But time has moved on and, as I say, I now probably have less in front of me than before. Unless of course some sort of life lengthening drug is offered to the working classes in the next ten years. It won’t be and so I imagine I’m screwed. But once this move is done, that’s it. No more wanging around the country in vans with removal men called Ron and a tank full of miserable axolotls. No more writing like a demon to get ahead so you can have three weeks off to ‘pack’ which is of course code for ‘damage your back beyond repair.’

But in spite of all that, I am optimistic. The new house is just as weird as this one, although it will be a damn site easier to keep clean and I will be able to have cats again. I’ll also get to finish my latest Hakim and Arnold book which is due in to Quercus at the end of January 2015.

It’ll all get done.

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