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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

THE ADVENTURE OF THE SEVENTH BOOKCASE: A REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.


Six bookcases danced to my tune. The seventh pretended to caper, and stabbed me in the back. I booked myself into a corner. No paint required.
   In a futile attempt to gain more space, I decided that moving seven bookcases in a long slow swirl down the drain was just the thing. And so it proved. The thing. Often, I return to the thorny problem of space. And just as often, I tell myself…
   Well, this is it. I’ve reached saturation. When there’s no more room in halls, the books will walk the Earth. (Thank you, G. Romero.)
   This time, it all felt different. I wasn’t making space for more bookcases. No. I was simply making more space. Storage units ebbed and flowed. I’d removed the maze of (budget) metal frames long back, and placed larger, sturdier, more expensive monoliths in their stead.
   Quite right, too.
   Now I KNOW I’ve reached saturation, and there really isn’t room for more bookcases unless I do something INSANE. That way, madness lies. Obviously.


What could I do?
   If I moved this bookcase out, I could move an identical-sized bookcase in. Wait. What?
   I’d gained a bookcase that was almost the same size as another two monoliths. Bookhenge grew around me. The only problem with this late addition was a loose top shelf. And that lone problem was a major one.
   Solution. Replace it with an identically-sized bookcase that definitely fits in the vacated space.
   Bookcase one and case two went with little difficulty. In the case of a borderline case, always employ the scholarly approach: wing it. That case is too large to move, fully-laden. Okay. Lift a few books off, and stack them somewhere. Anywhere.
   Move nowhere near the place you are about to move the bookcase to. That way, lies congestion.
   You’ve moved a few books off shelves. Try swinging the bookcase about its own handy pivot – the bottom left or right corner. No joy? Sensing the boards warping, on the verge of a churning snap or three? Lift more books away.
   Yes, it is easiest of all to empty the bookcase entirely. But then you have no room. ANYWHERE. As a weapon of last resort, shift the offloaded books to another floor. This level of foolishness is known. Well-recorded. It’s not for you, so consider it merely as a non-option of an option. A noption. If you insist on being American, a nope-tion.

*

Of the first six bookshelves, I moved three fully-loaded and three partially-empty. I left the worst until last. This bookshelf was the largest. I had to empty it. Not a tome left. After I scoured the bookcase, I considered removing the adjustable shelves as well.
   No. I thought I’d just barely get away with moving this case intact.
   If you know anything about books and moving bookcases, you’ll know that you don’t even glance at the spine of a book unless you have a tape to hand. I measured everything. Everything. Yes, I’d relocate two framed pictures to accommodate the largest bookshelf. No other way.


Measure, measure, measure.
   And the corner of the bed? Well. I’d be forced to slide the bookcase up over the corner of that bed and…
   That’s where the faint-of-heart cease and desist. Yes, it’s HARDER to move the bed. EASIER to lift the bookcase up and slide it over, pivoting that last case in the process.
   The tape told me the bookcase would definitely slide in there with enough room to spare. Up over the corner of the bed. Around to the left. Forward into its last resting-place. That narrow avenue. We’d park on the left, away at the back. And the bed’s height wouldn’t be a problem. What? Remove the mattress first?
   No. I needed the softness of the mattress to see the deal through.
   Part one. I stood on the bed, and manoeuvred the book-free monolith into position. Sequel. Cautiously, I hefted the bookcase up onto the bed. No difficulty there. Part three. I slid myself around to the left and prepared to draw the shelf alongside me.
   This task belongs to me, and goes by with surprising ease.

*

The whole while, I’m thinking about the last time I bought a bookcase. The last bookcase. Yes, I’d really hit saturation.
   Now I had a problem. The bookcase swivelled around, and I stood ready to drive it home. But I couldn’t do that from the side or the rear. I could only tackle the job from the narrow alley I aimed for. Yes, I had to go ahead of the bookcase.
   Or watch the whole case tip over and head too far down to the ground to land safely.
   I rehearsed that, and struggled to save the case. Save it I did. Close. Then I went in advance of the monolith, and dropped myself into the narrow alley.
   Still not a problem. Two vast cases stacked up against me, held there by a wall. I dragged the third case further and further into the mire. The moment of truth proved to be a lie.


Everything hinged, or rolled, on a curious roller-top bookcase. I had to slide my hefty bookcase right next to it. No go. Wouldn’t budge. The roller-top article didn’t quite stand true. And that mild deviation from right turned the whole scheme wrong. I couldn’t escape the alley, to make the modest correction.
   Damn. I’d bookcased myself into a corner. This was the end. They’d be lucky to find a skeletal hand there, at the dark alley’s edge.
   Surely I hadn’t trapped myself.
   Oh.
   Wiggle room?
   For a worm, yes. Not for a human.

*

Shift the bookcase to the rear of the room. Bring it back a smidgeon. Squeeze. Turn. Squirm. Slump. The bookcase is a ladder leading out of my predicament, but only if I don’t put my weight on it.
   Now I’m in here, it’s impossible to tilt the bookcase so that it mounts the corner of the bed on a return to wide open spaces.
   Can I nudge the roller-top obstacle just long enough to drop this massive jigsaw piece in place?
   No.
   Then can I move the roller-top the other way, forcing it out altogether? Absolutely not.
   Now I juggled, slowly, with the various pieces.
   I felt the heat. There was no heat. I’d turned the heating off, knowing this would be hot work. But I felt the heat. There wasn’t room to remove a jumper.
   Dehydration takes me before hunger, right? Or madness, perhaps. An ill-advised attempt to move the bookcase jumped to the top of that list. DON’T PUNCH ME, bookcase! 



What of the plastic drawers beyond the roller-top? A fingertip struggle ensued. It was barely possible to shift the plastic drawers, in fits, in starts. Yes, I closed off my one avenue of escape by drawing the drawers further out into the alley. Best possible bad move.
   No matter. I was committed, by that stage.
   The plastic drawers slid free. Wiggle room. I pushed the roller-top into the space vacated by the plastic. And then I returned to shunting the bookshelf into its intended spot. Finally, I had space. I staggered from the narrow alley and put everything back.
   That plastic set of drawers went away without a murmur. And the roller-top bumped in, nestling against the seventh bookcase, with ease. What was so hard from one side was a flimsy nothing task from the other side. I survived the adventure of the seventh bookcase.
   What did I learn? In all that time of hefting bookcases, I’ve had narrow squeaks down the years. But this was the narrowest. A shade too slim for my svelte frame to negotiate, the squeak proved squeaky as squeaky could legally be.
   The bookcase went to its doom with a cosmic sense of finality.
   Truly, I have no more room for bookcases. And this means no more books. The old lie, trotted out one last time.
   With bookcases rearranged, I contemplated the ancient sport: clearing a shelf of books. And by that, I mean reading those two books on that shelf. Then that shelf is classed as done. Cleared.
   I gaze at the shelves to my left. On the nearest shelf, two books go unread. Ahead of me, three books, part of a set, sit lost and unloved. And so it goes. If I manage to read a book a week, I’ll be happy.

*

As this blog goes out, one month down, I’ve read two books a week.
   Inevitably, after writing this blog, before posting this blog, I bought one last last last last last LAST lastest of the last bookcase. A small one, that fits just in there. I measured, in advance.
   No more bookcases.


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