Just a quickie as it 1.30 in the morning (so technically Wednesday). Yesterday at the British Library was wonderful. I had a nice train journey down, only making my fellow passengers laugh twice by falling asleep and grunting like pig, which is a good start all in all.
There’s an awful lot to take in and I spent a lot of time trotting about between floors and departments while I registered, put my coat in the cloakroom, put my bag in the locker as you can’t take big bags into the Reading Rooms and put my bits and pieces into a clear plastic bag.
Then I realised that I wasn’t allowed any of the writing equipment I’d taken, so had to slope off to the shop to buy pencils, rubbers and a sharpener. Back up to the Humanities Reading Room where I flashed my pass excitedly, chose a desk and went to collect my items.
I had ordered several years’ worth of Vogue Magazines and I got a peculiar thrill from handling actual stuff from seventy years ago, some of which still had leaflets and pull-outs inside, and the names of the original subscribers scrawled on the front covers. There were three big bound volumes and a pile of loose magazines and I set to work eagerly turning through them, marking out anything that would be useful in my researches.
My biggest problem was trying not to stare at everyone else to see what they were doing. The rooms were all packed. The corridors were packed with people sitting at tiny tables with laptops. There was a quiet hum of industry and learning and it was completely wonderful.
My friend, Doris Lamarr, met me for lunch and we had a delicious, freshly-cooked stir fry in the cafe and caught up on the last two years of our lives. I have known Doris since we were ten and it’s one of those friendships where we pick up where we left off, no matter how long it is since we last met. I love those type of friends.
I headed back to my desk with a full tum and started to mark up my work for copying. You have to register, pay in advance and then start copying. Except that you can’t copy things over a certain weight. Oh and you can’t colour copy, only scan which requires a memory stick – wot I hadn’t got. Bum. I finally got everything done and went to pack up my things.
I slipped into Marks and Sparks at St Pancras to get some supper to eat on the train, and hopped aboard. I had reserved a seat and sat down comfortably to eat, and peruse the results of my labours. It was then that I discovered that I had left all my photocopies on the tray of the machine and the library was now closed. Double Bum. I sighed, ate my supper and returned to the bosom of my family. What do you think the chances are of the copy clerks having kept my stuff? Yeah… that’s what I thought.