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Wednesday, 26 January 2011


This is the first time I've done Tara's Gallery, since my brain curdles when confronted with anything more difficult than cut and paste. This week's theme is Children so I couldn't resist. And it seems to boil down to cut and paste so I hope I've managed it.

I've chosen this picture of my children, out of very many, since it is pretty much relationship defining. T14 (then T12) is eye-wateringly long-suffering and F12 (then F10) is kinda demanding. Will he even endure being photographed with a normal face on? Nope. T14 would casually pose for weeks.
Love 'em.
I'm also tardy in thanking the very lovely Lesley Ninnes for sending me 2 of her gorgeous prints and a few beautiful postcards. She's one clever thing and I feel very grateful and lucky for having won her recent give-away. She lives and works in Cornwall so obviously one has to dislike her a bit, but otherwise her site is well worth a trip.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


We went to the library, F12 and I. Outside the doughty staff were waving placards and thrusting petitions for us to sign. I duly signed. This being the 3rd most popular library in the county it is due for closure. The council has spent a great deal of money on it in recent years, fitting automatic doors, modernising the Children’s Centre, installing self-service booths, streamlining the Wi-Fi area and polishing the coffee machine.
(Unexplained item in the Bagging Area. Remove. Oh, that’ll be a book, tsk.)

In all the improvements, I don’t see many new books. Plenty are for sale, an arbitrary selection of Think Yourself Thin to brand new picture books; the selection process of what to sell / what to keep is baffling.
The books which are there occupy an increasingly small footprint of the library. A healthy spread of rape and pillage – crime pays – and the paperbacks arranged in colour. That’s right: pink covers displayed with pink, orange with orange. Blue with – keep up.

Trouble is, books aren’t even books anymore. Not only are they the poor relations to DVDs, the homespun option to zingy CDs, they are reclassified as mere learning resource support materials. Or something. “Support” always seems to muscle in these days. It’s hard to think sometimes, once there, with the music blaring. The OAPs drift around to the pulsating throb of Eminem. I think it’s called making the library relevant. Or something.

I went in, trotting to save my scarf from doing an Isadora Duncan in the fierce sucking hush of the automatic doors closing in my wake and made my way to the FastBacks. I love the FastBacks. It’s all the stuff which is just out and you can only keep for a week. Which is more than you need to read a book. I did “War and Peace” in four days. An elderly gentleman and I tussled over the latest Michael McConnelly but breeding, respect and manners won through and he conceded the book to me.*

(*I wish. A girl can dream. In real life, and not in that crazy fantasy life where I end up with the thriller, I did my trilling “No, no, no!! I insist,” bit, all the while desperately hissing to self, Do Not Say, “you have it, while you can; you may be dead next week,” and it was he who tucked it under his arm and strolled off, whistling flatly through ill-fitting teeth leaving me with sub-standard fare like Rosamund Pilcher to pick over.)

Three girls, sub-teens, were squabbling over facebook, “Look, she’s called me a slag. The cow.” Fearful of being stabbed no one got involved. My friend Kitty said that she dreamed of being a librarian, of tucking small cards into the pockets on the tickets, of the satisfying thunk of the date stamp. We all had dreams about date stamps. Now it’s all processing and items and barcodes. Nothing to kick-start a gleam in a small child’s eye, apart from maybe the shiny name badge. Progress I suppose.

Pensioners silver-surfed or risked Maiming By Cappuccino at the coffee machine.

Eminem segued into Lady GaGa.

A sturdy lass with a string of children herded them all into the loo. The loo can take wheelchairs or families with half a dozen children. It’s why there’s only one. And a queue. Tena Lady Seniors formed an orderly line, edging in silent panic from sensibly clad foot to sensibly clad foot, pretending to ignore the stifled cries within as Shayne, Wayne and Dwayne peed somewhere near the lavatory. I know, I know, the SnobGod will get me.

Mr FastBack was struggling with the self serve, his wife hovering at his shoulder, the Rosamund Pilcher having found an appreciate home and pincered in her knobbly claw of a hand. He wasn’t sure what the “item” in question was meant to be, or the card he had to swipe, or what to do when that was your done.

“It’s your book,” I said, helpfully. Meaning my book. “And, here, your card, your library card.” He tucked his Tesco ClubCard back in his wallet and fumbled for his library card which he then held away from the scanner, dabbing it in the air nearby, frowning lest the red line bite. Another queue formed.

A member of staff, one of the few not out playing 1968 outside, hurried forward to help him use the self service. It’s all that’s left for them to do. The comments book bulges with praise for the staff, for their helpfulness, their kindly patience. Inevitable that they be phased out.

Some time later, significantly later than in what are rapidly becoming the Good Old Days, the transaction was complete. No one looked convinced. Beyoncé was urging the gathering Seniors to Put A Ring On It. Surreal, thy name is Library.

“Home love,” the old chap said to his wife, who was clearly still bemused. “A cuppa, a cracking read and ‘Deal or No Deal,’ what more do you want?” he smiled. The wife looked like she was tempted to offer “Whisky?” He patted her gloved paw. Technology taken on and conquered. They shuffled out towards the automatic doors, and triggered the alarm. The item had the last word. No way did it fancy being plonked on a sofa stranded with Noel Edmunds.

F12 ambled over with a teetering pile of books. “I haven’t got my card,” he said. “Will it matter?”