Scottish Daily Mail

My pre­cious memories of past loves

- Glasgow · William Butler Yeats

IT WAS a gloomy, wet day and I woke feel­ing down. Some prob­lems feel in­sur­mount­able . . . but you all know about that, don’t you?

So Robin and I de­cided to con­tinue spring-clean­ing my li­brary, on the grounds that if you’re feel­ing rub­bish, a rub­bish task that’s been put off will make you feel bet­ter after­wards.

To have a room ded­i­cated to books was my child­hood dream and, thanks to my hus­band who built and painted it all, it’s my favourite place. But the top­most shelves, es­pe­cially, car­ried ten years’ worth of dust and spi­der webs. It was not a pretty sight. So I left them to my tall hus­band and browsed.

What got in the way of clean­ing and re­ar­rang­ing was nos­tal­gia. I was trans­ported back to my univer­sity days and re­flected wryly that the texts (­im­pen­e­tra­ble An­glo-Saxon and Early Mid­dle English) that caused me so much stress are now trea­sured.

I thought of the aca­demic per­son I might have been and won­dered if I’d have liked it. Oh, and here is my Mil­ton — given to me by a dear lec­turer who fell in love with me, poor man. He’s dead now . . .

What about the in­scrip­tions? The Col­lected Po­ems of my favourite W. B. Yeats was given to me in 1966 by my boyfriend. Bound in leather, it cost him three guineas — a lot of money for a stu­dent.

But I fin­ished with him af­ter three years be­cause I met the stu­dent who was to be my first hus­band and with whom I fell madly in love.

Then come the books given to me by him, in­scribed with love of course. So many. It made me sud­denly sad.

But so much lit­er­a­ture is about great pas­sions. How many works fo­cus on hu­man foibles and flaws? The end­ing of any love story doesn’t mean it wasn’t true at the time, nor does it mean life­long love is a myth.

Noth­ing lasts for ever, but we can cel­e­brate the mo­ment that it was, when the flame flared and love was ev­ery­thing. Memories as pre­cious as my books.

Bel answers read­ers’ ques­tions on emo­tional and re­la­tion­ship prob­lems each week. Write to Bel Mooney, Scot­tish Daily Mail, 20 Water­loo Street, Glas­gow G2 6DB, or email bel.mooney@dai­ly­ Names are changed to pro­tect iden­ti­ties. Bel reads all let­ters but regrets she can­not en­ter into per­sonal cor­re­spon­dence.

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