Domestic God

We have 1,000 books in our house. Possibly more.

Incredibly, all these books would take up one-third of my wife’s Kindle. That’s just magic isn’t it? I mean apparating and flue powder and co are neat little tricks and I’ll be glad when they’re invented. But they’re not a Kindle. 3,500 books on that tiny little thing? Sorry, magic is the only explanation.

Sadly our 1,000 books weren’t on the Kindle; they were in our house. By the side of the bed. Stacked up in the dining room. Cook books cluttering the kitchen. And on groaning, protesting, over-filled bookshelves.

“Go and see your parents,” I said to my wife. “Come back, we’ll make a start on the books.” That was the Saturday of the Bank Holiday weekend. Looking for a few days’ peace and quiet? Should have kept my mouth shut.

First things first. If you have 1,000 books there are a good few you don’t want. A good few you’re ashamed of reading in the first place. So that was Dan Brown and Jeffrey Archer dealt with.

“Car boot sale?” I suggested.

“Charity shop,” my wife answered. And she was right. Three hours later The Da Vinci Code could be solved via the British Heart Foundation. “But that’s it,” the BHF man said as I approached with yet another bin liner’s worth. “Our book bloke says we’re full.”

Back at home the towers of books were blocking out the sunlight. Time to put on the Sorting Hat. Alright then, open a Sorting Beer. “They’re going to be alphabetical,” Jane ordered. “From now on we’re going to be able to find a book we want.”

I struggled with this alien concept and began sorting. And dusting. Patricia Cornwell seemed to have been lying under my bed for several years…

Jane started to put books on shelves. And I started to experience a strange sensation. I examined it carefully and discovered it was enjoyment. I wasn’t watching football. I wasn’t writing. I was doing a long-overdue job in the house with my wife and I was enjoying it. And I could find Silence of the Lambs. After all these years…

Emboldened by my new status as a Really Useful Husband I made another suggestion. “We desperately need to sort out the kitchen…”

“You’re right. We do.” And with that I sacrificed Monday as well.

…Which wasn’t quite as much fun. I seemed to spend long periods of time washing up. By hand. “And this needs doing,” my wife said for the hundredth time.

But yet again I was beginning to enjoy myself. And here was another strange thing. Jane appeared to my listening to my opinion. Yep, the new position of the toaster is all down to me.

“Are you alright, Dad?” Ben said as he came into the pits to re-fuel.

“Of course I’m alright,” I said. “Your mother and I are always doing jobs together.”

“No, you’re not. You sit in front of the TV and Mum – ”

I stopped him in his tracks. “I think you’ll find that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away. I’m a new man now.”

Strangely, my beloved seemed to have a coughing fit at that point…

But she survived and the new kitchen was officially declared open. ‘Minimalist’ was the word that sprang to my lips. ‘Gin’ was the word on my wife’s…

Then she made a suggestion. “We could tackle the garage next weekend if you like.” The garage? Have you seen our garage? Love can only carry you so far. I sense an urgent business meeting in Buenos Aires…

Thanks for reading this post. If you enjoyed it, you can buy the ‘Best Dad I Can Be’ sample book with 27 of my favourite posts covering all the years I’ve been writing: it’s all of 77p on your Kindle. Alternatively the first chronological book, ‘Half Dad Half Fish’ which covers the time when the children were 9, 7 and 4 is available here


  1. i think books are made to be unorganised and haphazard – they look sooo good that way. Sit back and put your feet up!

    • The problem was, Emma, that we simply couldn’t find the books we wanted. Been wanting to re-read ‘Silence of the Lambs’ for about 3 years – couldn’t find it anywhere. So house is now second only to the British Library in organisation. For now anyway…

  2. This made me chuckle! I do believe Stephen needs to see it!

  3. Husband and I tackled our overflowing bookshelves a few weeks ago. It was definitely a job which required two people, if only to ensure one didn’t throw away a favourite of the other. We now have them all boxed up but need to do the charity shop run. Of course, while they are still on the premises, I keep quietly sifting through the boxes and sneaking certain titles back onto the shelves.

    • Trish – somehow two of my wife’s favourite poetry books (which she’d had since she was a teenager) found their way into the charity shop bags. I had to go down to the British Heart Foundation and beg to get them back…

  4. “I wasn’t watching football. I wasn’t writing. I was doing a long-overdue job in the house with my wife and I was enjoying it.”

    I am going to show this to T’other Half!

    Great post, as always. 😉

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