Mary Dejevsky: I've just bought a book at a bookshop – and felt like a relic of a bygone age

Notebook

Share

One day last week, I shortened the wait for a bus by stepping inside the nearby bookshop. I emerged with the particular title I had in mind, plus a couple of others by the same author – amounting, if you must know, to a short course in early JG Ballard. As such visits go, it was a success: the book was in stock; it was an inexpensive paperback; there was no queue. Mission triumphantly accomplished.

The doubts crowded in as soon as I boarded. The books were only slim paperbacks, but they weighed me down. The print was quite small. Someone down the bus had an eBook. I noticed, enviously, that she seemed to have bumped up the print size. On the Tube that evening, I surveyed the packed carriage. Five "real" books, three eBooks. Alas, only two newspapers.

When I arrived home, with barely two pages read, it occurred to me that, with one of those little machines, I could have downloaded the books the previous day, got a start on reading, and perhaps saved money as well. After all, I just wanted to read them, not display them forever. On the contrary, in fact. The last thing our flat needs is more books, even slim paperbacks.

On that last point, and quite independent of any technological developments, I recently started weeding my books – proceeding shelf by shelf, pulling volumes off, putting them in boxes and taking them, with a mental apology, to the charity shop. Some became the subject of marital tussles, but not many. Over the weeks, the criteria have become quite well-defined. Books that are rare or aesthetically pleasing in some way earn their place. So do those with specific sentimental value – the memory of people who gave, or wrote, them. Classics, too, have mostly survived (though not if both of us detested them). Anything else – dozens of academic books, much light holiday reading, is for the boxes.

The trouble with the cull so far is that many more books have been dispatched to the charity shop than space has been created on the shelves. There's obviously some law of physics that my school O-level course missed. More striking, though, is how many friends and contemporaries turn out to be engaged in a similar exercise, including those for whom walls of well-ordered shelves seemed to be a state of being.

Now perhaps we are all running out of shelf space. Or perhaps, as birthdays passed, we've had a collective presentiment of the eventual need to downsize. But could the presentiment stem rather from our sense, deep down, that books are approaching their horse-and-carriage moment, when they will be forced off the roads by the equivalent of the private car. I haven't acquired that e-reader yet, but it must be just a matter of time.

It's my bus, not a school bus – sorry

Maybe it's another facet of ageing, but I'm becoming irked by what seems to be a growing number of school parties claiming a preferential right to use public transport. The capital's Tubes and buses are busy enough without a surly teacher pushing past would-be passengers, holding open the door and informing the poor driver that, if he/she would "be so good as" to hang on, there'll be 20 – or last week on the No 10 it was 30 – children to follow, along with assorted assistants and parents.

I've no real complaint about their behaviour once they're on – they're mostly small children and still hold their teachers in awe. But 20 or 30 on one bus or Tube train is too many. Of course, schools will blame "the cuts" for not hiring a coach – or they might argue that, if they don't show these mollycoddled children how to use public transport, no one will. Selfishly, I care more about the overcrowding and the delays – you wouldn't believe how long it takes to load up a class. What about a maximum of 10 at a time – or they're all charged the adult fare?

m.dejevsky@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Visitor Centre - Business Manager

£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: For the first time in its 1,000 year his...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Commercial Property Surveyor

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading firms of Cha...

Recruitment Genius: Female Companions / Personal Assistants - Perm and Bank

£9 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: We are currently recruiting for a care ...

Recruitment Genius: Groundworker

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Ground-worker required for an e...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Lammily with acne on her forehead  

Lammily the 'Normal Barbie' is a great start, but no gendered toy is without problems

Victoria Richards
The Uber app allows passengers to hail a taxi with a smartphone  

This is why I deleted Uber from my phone, and you should too

Timothy Kennett
US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines