On reading books

I remember now why I don’t read books any more.

I used to read them all the time. Up a tree, in a fort, in my bed with a torch, under my desk, in the loo at a boring party, in the arches waiting for a program to compile, on the train to work, making an excuse and reading instead of going on that blind date.

When I read, books suck me in, own my life, hold me mercilessly, don’t let me go. I cannot physically leave them until they’re done. I cannot sleep, I eat without tasting, wee only when I really have to and then rush back before my hands are dry. I ignore the television, the phone, my children.

And when they’re all done, gone, evaporated, I am bitter. I am affected. I write in melodrama, like this. They leave me here, go on to other adventures, fight to the death, make endless love, tragically go down in flames, get reborn in ashes. But they don’t tell me any more about it. Turning that last page shuts the window and draws the curtains. Off they go about their crazy, risky lives, and they never think about me again.

Here I am, I feel like I’ve just woken up. Get out of the cosy, warm bed, go about my day, prepare the meals, figure out how to avoid doing the hoovering. Wonder what they’re up to, those madcap, fictional characters. Yearn to do something big, dangerous and exciting.

Maybe I should go on an adventure.

But that’s not allowed any more, is it? It’s too big, too dangerous, too exciting. I have people that need me now.

And what should it matter? I love my life. I love my babies, my husband, my job, the suburbanality of it all. It’s safe, comforting, warm, cuddles, soft, quiet except when we’re laughing or cheating at scrabble or tickle-chasing each other round the house. It’s the present pluperfect.

But still. I don’t window-shop when there’s no budget. And I don’t read books anymore.


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