‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’

My clean study bookshelves ยฉ Ricky Yates

My clean study bookshelves ยฉ Ricky Yates

According to the ‘Oxford Dictionary of Quotations’, this proverb dates from the late eighteenth century. Apparently, an early example of its usage is found in one of the sermons of John Wesley published in 1788. Whether I’m godly I’ll leave others to judge, but after one last, major effort over the past few days, the Chaplaincy Flat is now in a state of cleanliness that it hasn’t known in the more than six years Sybille and I have lived in it.

As I explained as part of my answer to question three in this post from mid-July, whilst Sybille is away on her long distance walking pilgrimage from Prague to Santiago de Compostela, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to completely clean every part of the Chaplaincy Flat. As I also explained, the task was both prompted and aided by Sybille completely sorting out all her papers and belongings which were previously scattered on and under her desk.

After a bit of a lull in cleaning activity during September, as I wrote in the opening lines of my previous post, in October I tackled the kitchen. Whilst our kitchen might be small โ€“ realistically it would be better described as a kitchenette ๐Ÿ˜‰ – getting everything contained within it clean, was no small task!

With the kitchen complete, this meant that only my study remained to experience my cleaning blitz. But it was the room that I was least looking forward to tackling, which is why inevitably, I left it until last. My study does tend to be the room where things that don’t have a proper home, get dumped. For example, there is a box of papers which my predecessor was going to take to the Diocesan Record Office in London, but didn’t quite get around to doing so ๐Ÿ™ There are also two more boxes of papers and photographs which are mine, waiting as they have been for over six years, for me to go through and sort them out!

Eventually I decided that the best way to proceed was to start on one side of the study entrance door, and work my way slowly round the four sides of the room. Therefore, the ‘business end’ came first, where my desk, computer, printer/scanner/photocopier, phone, wifi router, paper shredder and two lamps, are all located. My greatest fear, as I pulled furniture away from the wall to remove the large amount of cobwebs and dust lying behind, was that I would accidentally disconnect some of the various wires, plugs and adaptors that make everything work. Fortunately, I avoided any mishaps and things probably work far better now they are no longer covered in dust ๐Ÿ™‚

Then it was the aforementioned boxes, piled on a trunk of my belongings, under the windowsill. The contents still are not sorted but at least they are no longer covered in dust.

The remaining walls of my study are all lined with bookshelves โ€“ all of the genuine IKEA variety ๐Ÿ™‚ They were put together and erected for my predecessor as Chaplain, when he and his wife moved into the flat after it was purchased by the Chaplaincy in January 2006, almost nine years ago. We are most grateful to have all these bookshelves as, despite massively downsizing before moving to Prague, both Sybille and I have great difficulty in parting with books and are experts at buying or collecting additional ones ๐Ÿ™‚

However, apart from giving the bookshelves a quick wipe before stacking our respective libraries on them, I have to confess that they haven’t received much attention with regard to cleaning since, save an occasional cursory wipe with the duster along the most exposed parts at the front. Therefore you can probably imagine the amount of dust that arose as I completely emptied each shelf of its contents.

As part of this exercise, I made two other ‘interesting’ discoveries. The first was that, whilst the bookshelves line the walls of my office, they are not actually attached to the walls. Therefore, having emptied each unit of all the books contained on them, I was able to move each unit away from the wall to reveal dust, cobwebs and dead insects which had been taking up residence over the past nearly nine years! The second, was that the back board of each unit had either detached itself or was coming detached from the unit. So as well as cleaning, I also spent time firmly nailing each back board, back into place.

This whole exercise of cleaning my study, has been tiring and quite time-consuming. But upon completion, I have been left with a real sense of satisfaction. And having had a run around today with the vacuum cleaner and the duster, through most of the other previously, thoroughly cleaned rooms, I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve in advance of Sybille’s return home this coming Tuesday. The only danger is that I’m becoming a little obsessional, promptly wiping any dirty mark I see and picking up every speck of dirt off the floor ๐Ÿ™‚

Whilst cleaning the boxes, whose contents await me ‘sorting them out’, I did make a most pleasing discovery โ€“ this delightful photograph of Sybille taken on our honeymoon in France just over nine years ago.

Sybille ยฉ Ricky Yates

Sybille ยฉ Ricky Yates

10 comments to ‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’

  • Em

    Who has time to clean when you have BOOKSHELVES full of BOOKS?! Jealous! ๐Ÿ™‚ Good for you for giving it a good scouring. When cleaning my rental flat a few years ago, I moved the (very old) stove to clean behind it and not only was there copious grime, but also a Christmas ornament stuck in the muck that was from six years prior (!). You never know what you’ll find when you move things… ๐Ÿ™‚
    And, yes, what a lovely photo you found!

    • Ricky

      Sorry to make you jealous, Em ๐Ÿ™‚ Whilst Sybille & I massively downsized before moving to Prague, we put nothing into storage & therefore have all our remaining possessions here with us – including all our books! I found the photo when getting the dust out of one of the boxes of things ‘still to be sorted’. I hope for more nice surprises when the contents of those boxes are properly sorted!

  • All I can say to the top picture is Wow! Your study is hardly recognisable, Ricky. ๐Ÿ™‚ I imagine that when she sees it, Sybille will have as big a smile on her face as she has in your honeymoon photo.

    • Ricky

      I didn’t think my study had changed that much from the time of your locum visits, Perpetua. Though I think they were before Sybille moved her desk to the sitting room which did give me much more space – space which is now dust free! The honeymoon photo was obviously taken by me, yet I cannot remember seeing it until I found it the other day in one of my ‘boxes to be sorted’. And I do love the smile too!

  • Yes, the study was so crowded when I was there that the lower bookshelves were well-nigh invisible. You certainly couldn’t have taken that to photo back then.

    • Ricky

      I do know what you are describing, Perpetua ๐Ÿ˜€ We both now work much better being in separate rooms and it is easier to access the bookshelves too!

  • Sean Mccann

    Hi Ricky,
    It’s the mark of a good husband to have the dusting finished before his wife returns from her walk! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Congratulations on the big cleanup and on the imminent safe return of Sybille, I hope her pilgrimage was fulfilling and many blessings flow from it for you both. I too envy you a bookshelf lined study, I’m a fellow book lover and had been using the room vacated by our daughter to store my books while aspiring (and saving) towards some shelves and a desk and office chair. The recession has led to our three children returning home, two bringing partners and one bringing a pair of cats. My books have returned to boxes in a corner of our garage which makes it hard to find something I want to share with a visitor or to re read for myself. Thankfully I hadn’t bought the bookshelves or desk as I would have had to sell them due to lack of space. Still that’s another first world problem and having our whole family here is a blessing – most days! God bless, Sean.

    • Ricky

      Thank you Sean, for adding to the compliments regarding my cleaning. As I’ve said in response to earlier compliments, I really do need to go & buy some polish to improve the shine on my halo ๐Ÿ˜€

      Fortunately, ever since I was ordained in 1989, I’ve always had a study with a decent amount of shelving allowing all my books to be stored but also readily available to read. Whilst the Chaplaincy Flat here in Prague, is far smaller than the Oxfordshire Rectory in which I previously resided, it was fitted out so that, what would normally be the third bedroom, can be used as the Chaplain’s study.

      I therefore do very much sympathise with you that your dream of your own bookshelf lined study has been thwarted by the economic recession. But I’m pleased that you can regard the return of your children to the family home as a blessing – most of the time ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Sean Mccann

    Hi Ricky,
    You don’t need any more polish on that halo of yours. I was up before dawn this morning and I could see the reflection of your halo in Prague, all the way from the Irish midlands. ๐Ÿ™‚