Today was the day, we set free, a group of imprisoned captors. Freed from their paper and leather bounds, they would speak to us, in person. 

How thrilled we were.  

The excitement was palpable. We watched old friends come alive. Friends of ours; our parents; our grandparents; filtering down the years. ‘Regale us with familiar tales!’ we cried. ‘Reaffirm that which is familiar –  recount it to us directly! Let us reminisce! Bring me on this journey in this present moment to this present day; so that I might relate it to my life,my partner, my son, my kith & kin! 

After some time has passed, we will tuck you back on the shelf. We shall say we met you one time; that you flitted, like an emerging pack of cards and concertinaed, cartoon like, from your leather bounds before us on mushroom chairs to disappear right back like a Disney skit. For a brief time we saw you and you saw us en masse and you spoke to us and some of us spoke to you. 

The Lonely Planet Guide to India, Second Edition, wide, heavy, familiar typeface, stood bold, dense and upright, proud in its travel heritage, solid in it’s learned truth of ancient lands and village folk with their foibles and folklore and enchanting encounters with travellers from Camden from relatives of NW1, of NW3. We were there.

Wedged up as it was to an ‘Alan Bennett’, slim, sleeve covered hardback, elegant, denying its flat vowels and even flatter delivery. Opening us up to diaries written in the recent lockdowns. We know your window. We imagine your pen, cup of tea, your view as you write. 

Delivered on foot not bike. 

Hearing aid missing and already signed. 

Please stay seated. 

Slanted at an angle, a lean-to of prose, a promise of colour, a jolly illustration adorning your title encouraging a jaunty ride to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Deborah Moggach intonated, refreshingly lilted of voice; play was good, film was shaking, writers and crafts and actors and timing. We were rapt. 

The reality of a political novel by a ‘thinking man’s crumpet’: two compliments. Joan Bakewell had recently moved out of Chalcot Square. Her Stockport roots an intrigue. Her gentle political comments dearly held, sensible yet impassioned. As our newly anointed PM emblazoned counter strides across Birmingham, we listened to a Labour Peer’s countered arguments and contemplated our parallel universe.

Will you come to life again? Will we free you from your confines? Shall we visit often and take you down, read you in a corner and see a Hogwarts like flicker across a page as you wave Hello from page 32?

We may see you as you pop to buy a paper from Shepherds or scuttling into a concert at Cecil Sharp House; protective arm provided by a friend, seat reassuringly close by. We may spot you on the hill sketching or writing; an acquaintance egging us on to approach or an aged relative pushing ahead with the confidence latter years bestow.

Happy 10th anniversary Primrose Hill Library. 

Who needs the council when you have community? 


Leave a Reply