People moan about moving house, as though it’s some huge terrible chore something like a nightmare.

I don’t know why.  I think moving house is great.  And although I’ve only ever had a flat’s worth of stuff, rather than a massive semi-detached-plus-garage’s worth, it’s still pretty easily distilled into two steps.

1) Find a new place to live.

2) Get all your stuff from your old place to your new place.


But seriously, I like all the endless searching (don’t you always see places of your hometown you never knew existed), the awkward meet-your-neighbouring (I found out that I live opposite novelist Marina Lewycka the other day) and those first few days sitting on your new settee, eating takeaway food surrounded by higgle-piggle towers of cardboard boxes.

Although my new place currently has a notable cat deficiency, I’ve still enjoyed warming it up and getting things straight.

Mainly this is because it appeals to my OCD side.

Naturally the following will probably be offensive to those with actual OCD, so to keep those guys distracted I’ll just say this: how people people used your bar of soap BEFORE YOU DID this morning!?

Whilst they’re hyperventilating somewhere, I can explain that what I have isn’t a disorder, obviously – It’s just nerdism.  I like to organise things.  I like to arrange them in ways that please some weird, weird part of me.

Books.  People who know me know that I have a lot of books.  I require a large amount of bookcases to house them and unloading boxes of books onto said bookcases makes me stupidly happy.  I organise them into a way that makes regulated sense out of the chaos of size, shape and colour that a bookcase may potentially be.  By author: naturally.  But what about the large editions of new books?  THEY STICK UP COMPARED TO THE OTHER ONES.  I don’t like this.  What about the hardbacks?  They’re deeper than the mass-market paperback ones!  THEY STICK OUT OVER THE EDGE!  I don’t like this.  The stygian interplay of shadow and perspective.  The SHEER UNTIDINESS OF IT.

So tall ones go together.  Short ones go together.  Deep ones go together.  What if this separates some books by a particular author from his others?  THIS CANNOT BE.  So I have to be inventive.  Okay, maybe they won’t run in chronological publishing order from left to right.  But at least the tall deep ones are at the left and the little ones are in the middle.  Then someone else can fill up the other side in a symmetrical, mathematical pattern that calms the nagging neatfreak within me.

This is a particular problem with some authors, say P. K. Dick, whose fiction is slowly going out of print and whose old third-hand Amazon editions are notoriously difficult to collate into a reasonable approximation of order.

Colour is important.  I don’t want my shelf to go black-orange-white-pink-blue-green-black-brown-white-white-grey.  I want it to go pink-white-white-white-grey-blue-green-brown-black.  A smooth Crayola regulation. It just makes sense.

I also don’t want my trashy Stephen Kings in with my literary J G Ballards.  So they are separated, thank-you both, and rearranged thematically so at least the China Mievilles and Jeff Vandermeers go together, and the Frank Herberts and Isaac Asimovs have a shelf of their own.  Woe betide the popular Richard & Judy bookclub trash that weedles its way inbetween the poets and the best of the non-fiction.  BE GONE WITH YOU, resigned to the narrow shelf two up from bottom, which is practically invisible when you look down at it from a lofty, judgemental 5-foot-11.

Why do I let myself do this?  Because I enjoy it.  Do I like it when somebody picks up a book, takes a look at it, and then puts it back on the shelf SIDEWAYS ON TOP OF THE OTHER BOOKS?  Not really.  I’ll put it in its proper place when they leave, or when they recover from that mysterious and sudden blunt-force head trauma.

People like to call these little quirks of theirs OCD, like organising your DVDs by director – but it isn’t.  It’s just basic nerdiness and those people should just admit it and embrace it.

It feels good.  Mmm.  Like warm PJs fresh from the drier.

So anyway.  This is one of the reasons why I like moving house.

— db