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Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tales from the Library: A Room of One’s Own

December 23rd, 2012 at 8:49

I’ve really been missing my fortnightly upload of current reading into Galactic Suburbia!

I used to write reviews a lot, but trailed off from doing it because I found it was getting harder and harder to do, and also limiting my reading because it made it too much like work. Like Kirstyn on The Writer and the Critic, I found that just going BLAHH and talking out my recent reading worked better for me.

But, sniff, no podcast, no podcast until the end of JANUARY cos my fellow podcasters are going away on stupid holidays and honeymoons, whatever. Time for me to figure out a compromise between Reviewing book and just talking about them.

My library – like the physical room where my books live – has been going through some traumas lately, because of a few wild cleaning/re-organising sprees I have inflicted on the rest of the house (and on one memorable occasion, the library’s own walk in wardrobe). I try to keep it clean and tidy and inviting for guests as well as myself, but its large floor space does rather mean that when we have to put boxes SOMEWHERE, or um somebody accidentally bought three more flatpacks of furniture than our house actually needs, well. The library is usually the sacrifice.

It was certainly sacrificial space last weekend when I tore into the walk in wardrobe, transforming it from a Pit of Despair to a Quite Orderly Space.

Add to this the fact that the library en-suite is currently the Zone of Toilet Training and, well, yes.

Did I mention my library has an en-suite? It is the room that should logically be the Master Bedroom, and in fact was our bedroom for a good part of our time here. We moved into it when Raeli was a baby, and didn’t manage to give her a room of her own for two and a half years because the only rooms available were at the very far end of our long, long house. Eventually we moved up the other end into a much smaller room when she got her own room, and all was fine.

When Jem came along, we hauled ourselves back to the abandoned Big Front Bedroom and settled her into the bassinet there, although the convenience of having a parental bedroom at the front AND back of the house became rather too convenient when it came to a certain male parent slipping away to get more sleep than a certain female parent by ‘keeping Raeli company’ at the end of the house that didn’t have a crying baby in it.

Also, Raeli was still only 4 and did genuinely feel a bit abandoned at her end of the house.

So our new compromise was to ditch my old study to be Jem’s bedroom at what felt like a super early age to have her own space (six months), the benefit being that it was right next door to our room and Raeli’s. All sleeping together at one end of the house. But the weird part was that the only room available for my study was the massive master bedroom at the front, complete with en suite bathroom and walk in wardrobe. I mean, I wasn’t complaining or anything, but it did feel decadent…

Thanks to narrow corridors etc. it also meant getting rid of our bed, which was fancy and wooden and beloved. I was a bit sad about that, as well as regretful that we would be losing our convenient spare queen sized bed for guests. Until my honey had a brainwave – why lose the bed? Why CAN’T you have a bed in a study? Or indeed, a library.

I could have squeezed a desk in there, but I didn’t. I do all my writing in armchairs or at the dining room table, anyway. It wasn’t a study in the way my previous room had been – it was definitely a room of Bookshelves and Bed, and what else does a library need? We ordered me a wingbacked chair for my birthday/mother’s day a couple of years ago, and never looked back.

When the library is clean and tidy, it’s a happy space. I can retreat in there to read, though lying on the bed with a book is practically a gilded invitation for the girls to come and leap on me. I’m okay with that. Sometimes they even bring books with them in pretence that they’re not just in it for horsie rides.

(Horsie rides is when one of them sits on my back and pretends I’m a horse, while I read a book. It’s one of the last vestiges of Raeli’s younger years when I managed to devise all KINDS of games that involved me reading a book while she did the ‘fun’ part)

The girls know that the library is special. They are not allowed in there on their own (after the horrible cushion plucking incident of 2011) though Raeli sometimes is, with permission. There is no eating in the library (though my adult friends are occasionally allowed to smuggle a cup of tea in there).

Right now, Raeli and I are reading our way through the Marcia Williams kids graphic novel of the Iliad and the Odyssey at bedtime, two pages a night, and as her sister now goes to bed with the door open, we have to sneak down to the library to do it – lying on the bed, I read the text while she reads the speech bubbles. I’m enjoying it like crazy, not least because this book, which I snuck into her Christmas pile a year ago, is one she has now seized upon all by herself and wants to share with me, because she freaked herself out with the bit where Hector is horribly killed, and you kind of need a Mummy there when dealing with Odysseus and the Cyclops.

I love my library. I feel physically better when the bed is clear of laundry and ready to be read upon. If I have a new year’s resolution (and I never do, except where reading is concerned), it should probably be to keep that space clean, clear and inviting as much as possible in the coming year.

Also, I should build that flat pack furniture.

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