The hypothenuse

Last week Aunt Ochiltree moved into Aunt Scarborough’s flat. Well, Aunt Scarborough had moved out first. They’re not sharing. But it made sense, since one of them was leaving town and the other was looking for somewhere more – shall we say – age-friendly. And it’s got a great view from the living room window. It’s the kind of spot where you can just sit and watch.

We’d promised to help, and the Resident IT Consultant went overe there nice and early to intercept any removal vans that might turn up. I followed ten minutes later, arriving as he and Aunt Ochiltree were sizing up the spare bedroom to make sure everything would fit. They’d just got to the point where they agreed that the hypothenuse meant it would be all right.

As you do. I have moved a lot and I have measured stuff, but I have never sought solace in the hypothenuse.

Aunt Ochiltree and I then watched as the removal men carried and the Resident IT Consultant and his cousin Sailor unpacked the kitchenware, trying not to break things. After which we allowed poor Sailor to make us lunch, before we did any ‘more’ work.

I was given the book boxes to do, and in the end I slit them open and unpacked the books, leaving Aunt Ochiltree to decide where they went. I don’t know her books at all, so felt this was the best way. Luckily – although she thought she had a lot of books – she didn’t. She had perhaps 10% of what we brought with us in our own move. And that number of books you can unpack in an afternoon, and they also fit into the available bookcases.

What was interesting for me was to see what matters to other people; what they want to keep as they – try to – downsize. Because most of the books were old, of the kind that you have loved over the years and feel comfortable having around. None of this buying and keeping the latest in literature.* Which reassured me, as I often feel guilty for thinking my old books might be enough.

So there were books on geology, and there were A Lot Of Maps. A A Milne and Gerald Durrell. Someone called Talbot Mundy, whom I’ve never encountered before. Pearl Buck, and Kipling. Books on travelling. Well used cookbooks. Well loved books in general. I hope they’ll be happy in their new home.

*Apart from a copy of Sarah Dessen’s Lock & Key. I blame the granddaughters.

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