According to my wife I am impulsive, frequently making rash, reckless decisions that I later regret. I'm not sure how true this is. My most impulsive act - spontaneously booking a flight to Chile because the weather in February was depressing me - made perfect sense.
I would also argue that it was due to my impulsiveness that we got on the property ladder, during a brief lull in the housing market.
However, the case for the prosecution has become much stronger recently, thanks to a moment of madness on eBay a couple of weeks ago, when I made a winning bid (in fact the only bid) for four Edwardian chairs.
It seemed too good to be true: £40 for the lot. Surely I could sell them for at least £200?
It was only after I'd congratulated myself for winning the chairs that I realised that collecting them would involve a 350-mile round trip to Devon.
I don't mind driving long distances in the Nevada desert, but in Britain it's an endurance course of roundabouts, roadworks, caravans and geriatric drivers. I was very tempted to pull out and tell the seller that they could keep the money.
However, this morning I began the long drive along the coast of southern England. To make the journey bearable, I had several CDs of Radio Four podcasts: a recent Start the Week, from Sydney, with Thomas Keneally, Kate Grenville and Deborah Cheetham; the first episode of a dramatisation of 'Life and Fate'; a documentary about Elgar during the First World War and two episodes of 'Desert Island Discs', with Diana Athill and Ann Leslie.
When 'Life and Fate' was first broadcast as a BBC radio drama, two months ago, I considered listening to it as an alternative to tackling the dauntingly thick book. But in another edition of Start the Week, Linda Grant was so persuasive about Life and Fate's status as one of the great 20th century novels, I felt I had to read the book.
I'm really glad I did.The radio adaptation is perfectly fine, but it's very different from the book and barely scratches the surface of Grossman's complex, profound masterpiece.
Sadly, just as the episode really started to take off, I hit a succession of roundabouts and every other minute the Satnav lady bellowed instructions at me, which was rather distracting:
"Ludymila, we are returning to Moscow! We must TAKE THE SECOND EXIT AT THE NEXT ROUNDABOUT."
I arrived at the house just before 11.00. Luckily, I remembered the Remembrance Sunday two minutes' silence in time to avoid any faux pas.
In the window of the front door, there was a slightly intimidating notice warning that the owners possessed a ferocious, possibly illegal dog. I wondered what I was letting myself in for. Fortunately, the seller was a really nice man who seemed genuinely concerned that I had made such a ridiculously long journey (I'm not sure if it was my physical or mental health that he was worried about).
On the way back I decided to make a detour to one of my favourite places - Lyme Regis:
The Cobb hasn't changed very much since Jane Austen described it in 'Persuasion'. Today it wasn't quite as dramatic as the opening scene in 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' (when Meryl Streep's stunt double was nearly washed into the sea) and people confidently ambled along the occasionally treacherous stones:
I've lost count of how many times I've been to Lyme. I used to dream of running the bookshop there and imagined walking along the seafront during winter storms, searching for fossils that had been loosened from the crumbling, slate cliffs.
During the journey home, I discovered that 300,000 Londoners used the Underground to shelter from air raids in the First World War, compared to 150,000 during the Blitz. I also learned about the enforced separation of Australian Aboriginal babies from their mothers, Diana Athill's first kiss and Ann Leslie's bizarre meeting with Indira Gandhi.
It might have been a long drive, but there are worse ways of spending a day than driving through pleasant countryside, listening to intelligent conversation.
I now have four chairs to sell (which I may end up keeping) and I'm relieved to say that my rather pathetic inventory of 42 books has now increased to 437. Only 7563 books to go.
One other piece of good news: I now also have a 'Steerforth Books' header, which has subtle echoes of the Downs and 1940s book jackets. I shall be using this on my website when it's launched next year:
I can't wait to get started.