Book tiramisu is, as the name suggests, a great pick-me-up. Pick me up, pack me up, haul me up, open me up and lap me up.
An alternative name for this recipe might be 'How to raise over 1,000 books through 100m vertical without a helicopter, a mule or an obliging Ecuadorian' (and that's another story).
You will need:
1,000 books, miscellaneously and hurriedly boxed, and at the end of a long transcontinental journey deposited finally at the foot of the hill in that mobile storecupboard known as a car
1 large, strong rucksack, clean and empty
1 small 40-something (female) with Welsh pit-pony antecedents
10 tons of patience
1 qualified chiropractor with a sense of humour on stand-by
1. Skip down hill carrying the clean rucksack and beaming with anticipation. You may wish to fill the rucksack with empty barbera bottles or old chicken-feed sacks, for the recycling station at the car park. In which case, trudge.
2. At the car park, search for the mobile storecupboard. Who knows where the über-chef left it last?
3. Once the mobile storecupboard is located, locate the keys. Open the door. Take a deep breath. Open the nearest box. Pounce on a particularly cherished old friend, sit down on the floor cross-legged and start reading. When your butt starts to freeze, come back to your senses and carefully arrange a few of the books in the clean rucksack, filling it evenly.
4. Try to get the rucksack on. Crumple beneath the weight. Open rucksack, remove a few books, read their titles, light up with joy, then remove a few more, replacing with the first books taken out. Read the titles of the second batch of books. Spend at least 10 minutes trying to decide which titles to bring up first and which to bring up later. This is an important step in the recipe and should not be hurried. Remember that you've been apart seven long years, and that they've covered exactly 1313km to be with you today. Twenty-four more hours won't extinguish the flames of your passionate bibliophilia.
5. Look through a few more of the boxes stacked in the mobile cupboard, and grab a crippling armload of old favourites that smell of East End attic and nostalgia, and without which you simply cannot live another minute. (At this point in the process it's crucial not to let any participles dangle.)
6. Slog the whole lot up the hill, stopping at every bench, resisting the urge to resist the urge to start reading.
This could take some time...
7. At home, carefully decant the books onto the kitchen table. Now carefully decant about 4oz of Jura crémant into a crystal glass and taste. Get a roaring fire going in the hearth and drag up a heinous green hand-me-down armchair. With a slightly damp cloth, remove any traces of chicken poop and wine dribbles from the dust jackets and slip cases. Call the chiropractor and make an appointment. Inform the children that at suppertime it's every man for himself, and, trying not to think about how many times you're going to have to schlepp up and down the hill, which will almost certainly curdle your tiramisu, enjoy the midwinter pick-me-up...
The first haul (literally):
Our Bodies Ourselves - Boston Women's Health Book Collective (ah the feminist seventies, awash with mysterious phrases like 'women's collective' and 'orgasm' and 'fondue')
Ancient Greek Literature - Dover et al (from the pre-college summer reading list, along with Arthur Koestler's The Sleepwalkers, a revelation in thought for an 18-year-old small-town grammar-school girl)
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (thanks S.)The Captain's Verses - Pablo Neruda (bilingual edition - passion and poetry - we were so young)
Untying the Text, A Post-Structuralist Reader - Robert Young (one day I'll make sense of post-structuralism if it kills me, and it probably will)
The Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolf (book better than the movie - I can't abide Tom Hanks)
Lesbian Images - Jane Rule (blame my thesis supervisor)
English Journey - JB Priestley (must have been a free gift)
The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici - Christopher Hibbert (full of great quotes - e.g.: "He has emblazoned even the monks' privies with his balls...").
African Adventures - H. Rider Haggard (boxed set of three, tough on the shoulders)
I Know why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou (and I know why my poor knees creak).
Do not disturb.