Middle Cat informed us. She was looking at a selection of goodies the Senior Cat had found on sale at the library - used library books, excess to their requirements.
She looked severely at the Senior Cat. He smiled.
"I'm serious," Middle Cat protested, "You should get rid of some."
"Yes, perhaps...one day," Senior Cat told her. He had that long-suffering look on his face - the one he has every time she tries to bully him.
Middle Cat is a bully. She likes to organise people and tell them what to do. I dislike being organised. I hate being told what to do. I was never a team player. The Senior Cat is not much better.
Middle Cat tried to tell him he should do it "now".
"Every time you buy a new one you should get rid of at least two old ones."
"Yes dear," he said with absolutely no intention of obeying her.
She turned her attention to me.
"You don't need all those dictionaries or those or those. You can get all that stuff on line these days. You could get rid of them and stop cluttering the place up."
No. It doesn't work like that. I don't work like that. I like books. My reference books sometimes look like hedgehogs with their little paper spikes bristling out of their spines. I sometimes need to have four or five open at a time. I need to be able to flip backwards and forwards.
"I've never even heard of half of these. You can't possibly need to use them." She pulled out a dictionary of Melanesian Pidgin. "I bet you've never even used this."
"Take a look inside," I told her and put the kettle on for the Senior Cat to have a cup of tea.
She put the book back on the shelf. If she had looked inside she would have discovered a good many pencil ticks against words - words that were used to set up a communication board for an emergency.
Middle Cat does not read a lot. There is just one bookshelf in their house. The books in it are mainly medical texts.
"You should watch...." Middle Cat goes on to Senior Cat and tells him about a "funny" television series. He watches almost no television. The series is on a "commercial" station that airs seventeen minutes of advertising in every hour. There is no way he would tolerate that. I can't tolerate that.
"No, I have to go," Middle Cat tells me when I ask her if she is staying to drink cups of tea with the Senior Cat.
She takes the book she came to borrow and leaves. The Senior Cat opens one of his new found treasures and immerses himself in tea and words.
Half an hour later I remind him that the hose is still sprinkling on "that patch". Does he want me to move it? Oh. Yes. He got caught up in the words.
"We have too many books in this house," he tells me - but he won't do anything about it and neither will I.