"Why don't you sell your books Dad?" This from our fourteen, soon to be fifteen, year old daughter. It was prompted by a conversation about our "embarrassing" television. Apparently we have the oldest and therefore most embarrassing tele around. We Birdwatchers have a bit of a thing going really. The worlds most embarrassing tele, the worlds most embarrassing car and until recently we had the worlds fattest hamster.
Anyway back to the books. I explained that I could not possibly sell them. Each one is a friend.
"That's rubbish dad. If you sold each one for £2 then we could get a new tele and a decent car."
I thought for a moment. "Mum wouldn't sell them!" Which put an end to the argument. She accepted this as well.
It made me think about books and children though. Books are reliable, I mean you don't come down in the morning to find that the latest Ian Rankin has suddenly grown and now its pages won't fit between the covers.
Your much loved Adam Smith does not disappear for hours at a time only to come back just as you are about to phone the Police and return sulkily to its place on the shelf, after elbowing for no reason your copy of 1984 out of the way.
Great Expectations does not find you so intolerably embarrassing that it refuses to allow you to read it unless you first put a plain brown cover around it.
Books or Children? I thought a bit more and then remembered how brilliant they had both been at my brothers wedding, looking after the younger children. The excitement in the smaller birdwatchers voice as he tells me about his riding lesson. Seeing our daughter perform in her play. Watching them go off to school in the morning and feeling happy that they are getting on so well and worried for them at the same time. Its not even a contest!