The day that my mother threw my brother's books out of
the bedroom window, I was sitting on the back garden
step counting my meagre collection of records. "What's
she doing?" inquired a startled friend, covering his head
with his hands to repel a cascade of Pans and Penguins.
"Spring cleaning," I replied, drawing his attention to a
rare Chuck Berry in my hoard, struggling to divert his
attention from the embarrassing goings on. "A bit bloody
much isn't it?" he grumbled, taking his hands from his
head and gazing warily up at the bedroom window. "She
could injure somebody." There was a brief pause, then
another avalanche. My friend was struck twice. "I've
never read this," he said, bending to pick up the first
volume of War And Peace, "is it hard?" I smiled, relieved
he'd taken the second assault in such good spirit. "No,
not really," I lied, "I got through it in a week."
"Where's Derek?" asked my mother over tea later, mildly
concerned. "He left without saying cheerio." I muttered
something about the books, suggesting he might be
intimidated a little. She laughed."I've told your brother
time and again about the dust. I think he must be daft or
deaf or something. Books invite dust. I've not time for
the books lay amidst the daffodils and tulips until my
brother came home from work. "Oh no!" he exclaimed as
he arrived, catching sight of me lurking by the open
kitchen window. "Why didn't you pick them up for me?
They could have been rained on."
"She forced me to have a bath," I explained. "There
wasn't any time." It wasn't true, but I was too ashamed to
admit to my laziness. I was an unhelpful swine in those
My brother took his books back upstairs, stacking them
in neat piles by the bedroom window. I assisted,
reluctantly. While we worked our mother took her
evening nap on the living-room settee. "When's Dad
coming home?" my brother asked after we'd finished.
"Have we got to wake Mother up before he gets in? Will
he be wanting his tea?" I wasn't sure. "Perhaps it's in the
oven." I said, trying to be helpful. As we went into the
kitchen to investigate I espied a muddied copy of David
Copperfield lying on the table. "We must have forgotten
this," I said, picking it up, leafing through. "It's a big book.
Have you read it?" "Of course! Dickens is an old friend of
mine!" snapped my brother haughtily, opening the oven
door, thrusting his head in, staring at the darkness