Library life

This week I have been mostly working in our local library because builders have been hammering out the windows of our little house and playing loud country music. True, there were only doing this from Monday to Wednesday, but today, Friday, I’m back in the library. Why? Because it’s a journey, and I’m about to leave Exeter.

Here are some things that have happened this week.

(1) A young woman gasped at something on her computer screen and ran from the building making loud wretching noises – repeat, she left the building; I saw her sprinting down the steps, outside. I was far too polite (and reluctant to abandon my laptop) to check out what she saw on her computer, but I doubt if it was a cat playing the piano.

(2) I’ve learned that it is indeed possible to say ‘Hello?’ once every ten seconds, on average, as the little Japanese girl next to me wrestled with Skype. I didn’t have the heart to point out that mobile phones aren’t allowed in the library; though a matronly librarian certainly did point this out almost halfway through the day. After that, the ‘Hello’s were whispered.

(3) A person will literally beat another person about the head in order to keep their place at a computer. Well, alright; I didn’t see any beating – let’s call it ‘figurative’. But one woman almost lost her place to an elderly man/usurper, and then followed a loud conversation about the true meaning of a coat on a chair. Can the coat serve in lieu of a human being when said human is collecting a print out? Who knows. Certainly the elderly man and the woman had different ideas on the subject. Eventually, the immovable old man met the irresistible force of the librarian, and the man disappeared in a puff of logic.

(4) The library is the perfect place for older couples to demonstrate how wounding remarks can be communicated with equal effectiveness in the non-verbal realm: sidelong looks of boredom, shooing gestures, and slaps across the knuckles.

(5) ‘The wheels on the bus’ from my toddling days remains a children’s classic, and seems to have accrued several hundred more verses, and accompaniment via that most evil of inventions, the maracas. Olé.

(6) In this library, one is not expected to go to the toilet. Any enquiries about the facilities are met with a mute shake of the head as the librarian’s orderly mind boggles at the very idea. One is directed to the toilets on the square outside the library, which are impishly locked.

I’ve also been checking out the coffee shops, and if you’re ever in Exeter, I can recommend The Boston Tea Party (no wifi) and the Café Nero (‘Sip and Surf’ wifi).

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Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

3 thoughts on “Library life”

  1. My friend Alec (age 6) and I composed this when we were very very tired of hearing that song one day:

    “The wheels on the bus go POP! KA-BOOM…

    The people on the bus shriek OH MY GOD

    The front of the bus skids off the road

    And all down the cliff…”

    There’s more, but I’ll spare you.

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