I recently held a wee soiree at my house. A little celebration of my 15 years in the UK. Well, 14 if you count 12 months living on the Isle of Man. So. Party invitations disseminated. Vague responses, demographic of attendees sways wildly over the RSVP period. By the evening we had a strange mix of random acquaintances, theatre-friends, a couple of couples, and a sprinkling of colleagues. New people. Lovely, all of them. One or two somewhat socially inept. Another struggling with making conversation with the female contingent. One not really fitting at all. Still, a fine diverse complement of the people now in my life. Many, about whom I care greatly.
Funny to watch the dynamics. And a little disconcerting. Not the best gathering I have ever hosted. Far from. In fact, I was quite worried that both the majority were happy to sit and chat and there wasn’t a kitchen clique. How is that possible? I have never been to a house party that was lacking a kitchen clique. It unnerves me. Even in my later years this has been a staple escape destination should the conversation flatten, escalate or disappear – and salvation is always found in the kitchen. Even when someone is shuffling about amidst the kitchen-dwellers cleaning. That is where the banter is. Or the covert eye-lash fluttering. Or the full-on groping while occupants laugh and harass. And friendly repartee with the one who has just entered the room.
Anyhoo. It was a strange party. An affirmation that there are indeed some beautiful, caring, funny, special people in my new world. But also that… well, no one looked at my books.
Not a single one of the 20-odd people that could actually make the date of my party, that moved through the rooms in my flat, looked at my books.
This has made me reflect.
Imagine. A whole bunch of people in my life, most of whom have never been to my home before, have no idea how I live or what goes on in my ‘not with them’ time… and not one thought it interesting to have a look. Even a cursory nod to literary homage on the shelves. And these books, carefully culled and curated, more than anything else, are the greatest and most intimate display of who I am.
Also I am a book snob. Did no-one want to check out my clever or ironic or classic titles? My indie, rare, or challenging collection?
One thing did happen. The Kids sang Let It Go from the Disney movie Frozen. A few times. So that was lovely. But I didn’t point to my beautiful early 1900s edition of Hans Christian Andersen stories, including The Snow Queen, sitting on my bookshelf.