The Christmas my in-laws threw out my treasured books: Carol Birch

My marriage was on the rocks – and then came the revelation that my life’s collection of books had been given away to a jumble sale

Newly arrived in England after eight years in the south-west of Ireland, we dumped our stuff in Kennington, south London, and went to my then husband’s parents’ house for Christmas. It was the late 80s, and our marriage was heading for the rocks.

There’d been some idea that a complete change would do us good, though quite how the flat in Kennington was supposed to energise us I have no idea. It was bleak and damp, three flights up on an estate with stinky stairwells and rubbish overflowing in the yards. Still, it was a change from cabin fever. I was looking forward to furnishing it with my books, which had been stored in a large wardrobe at my parents-in-law’s all the time we’d been away.

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Alex Vidal