I noticed quite recently that my local library is open until ten o’clock at night. I hadn’t realised this, and, being someone who works late at night, decided it would be stupid not to avail myself of the peace and tranquillity whereby I could spend my lunch break.
Of course, all of this is from the perspective of a child who’d grown up in the seventies. It seemed in those days that I would constantly have an attendant librarian at my back just waiting to pounce at the first utterance from my mouth or the initial intrusive crunching of my crisp packet. Oh how things have changed.
I had just settled down at a table on the second floor, my moleskin open before me, my pen poised in my hand ready to fill the dull hour with the magic of the written word, when… from behind me came the sounds of a loud conversation. I turned, secretively… It was only two young male students, laptops open, deep in study, deep in talk of beer, deep in talk of girls they wished to get into deeply. I could manage that. They looked as if they were preparing to go anyway. So, back to the joys of creation…
From between the shelves of hallowed books there came a deep rumbling trundling sound. It must be the cleaners thought I. But no, it was a large man, dragging a wheeled suitcase behind him. I cast him an annoyed glance. He of course didn’t notice me or hear my anguished tut, tut… But how was the fellow to hear me at all? With his phone on speaker I could clearly discern the irritation in his wife’s voice as it echoed around the walls. Mercifully he passed by and settled in some distant corner.
I managed a few good pages and then I felt the ‘presence’. I turned. Behind me, on a small and angular sofa sat a man. He stared at me. I smiled. He stared at me still. I managed a few more scribbled words (probably not my best work) and then decided that lunch break was over. I packed up my things and avoided the staring man.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love the library, and would fight tooth and nail to stop the government cost-cutting, but it seems that I’d sometimes rather be back in the seventies, back when the Librarian seemed frightening enough.