Gradually moving towards our departure in September involves a degree of essential disengagement or leaving is metaphorically like falling off a cliff.

I am getting used to saying, ‘Yes, we can book that wedding or that event, but I won’t be here,’ or, “I can’t really make that decision as it will affect my successor.’ Equally, our personal preparation involves decisions over what to leave and what to take; what to dump and what may have some life for someone else, and can go to a charity shop.

Books are an issue never easily resolved, but we are downsizing, so some need to go – something between a quarter and a third of the total.  Half my theological books alone are to be parted with, but those are inclined to be mostly old paperbacks and the heavier hardbacks are staying, at least for now.

I have a habit of leaving notes in books; the stub of a boarding pass; a train or bus ticket; or money.  My grandfather used to keep banknotes in books and I have followed suit.  I can see him now with his back broadly to us, hiding the shelves, as he delved into a book for a ten shilling note for us to go shopping; the sliding glass covers to the bookcase firmly slotted back.

Books can tell their own stories from things written in them too.  I bought an old volume on the Passion of Christ a number of years ago for 20p.  Inside the front cover I discovered that it had been a present from a wife to her husband in 1914.  Was it, I wonder, intended for him to take to the trenches with him?  That I don’t know.  But she bought it with three shillings that she had won for gaining second prize in a needlecraft competition for which she had made, or decorated, a bonnet.  The Arts and Crafts Exhibition had been in Oxford; the guideline ‘Any article materials not to cost more than 1/-.’

Several score of books have gone already.  I don’t think that there is any money in them, but if there is, good luck to the person who finds it!  Finders Keepers.  Now I am back to deciding should I give a reprieve to books I had forgotten that I had.  Decisions, decisions; not to mention when to finish the blog.  Maybe it can go from the end of July…..