Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Watch Out, Miss Duffy

I've run out of library trivia so I thought I'd share this with you.

A couple of weeks ago Nottingham Writers' Club held their Verse of the Year evening. I don't normally do poetry but the theme was 'SatNav' and seemed like a good subject to squeeze a few rhymes out so I had a go. Unbelievably I won, so I present it here for your critical eye.

Voice of an Angel

Straight on at the next roundabout, keep left as you get near it
Approaching in a hundred yards, then take the second exit
Be careful on the carriageway, there's roadworks up ahead
You need to slow down now in case the traffic lights turn red

You've missed your turnoff, now I must recalculate your route
Turn left at the next junction while the journey I compute
This constant droning voice is really driving me insane
Dictating all my moves from motorway to country lane

It's starting to annoy me now and getting such a bore
I'm quickly losing patience and can't take it anymore
On every trip, that monotone keeps bossing me around
It's getting so I cannot bear to hear that awful sound

I got rid of that annoying voice, I threw it in the water
I bought myself a SatNav, now my journeys are much shorter
The young girl's voice is charming, I'm convinced she's heaven-sent
Unlike my wife who's body is now floating in the Trent

And if you want to hear me recite it, you can go to the Nottingham Writers' Club website at

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Library Services

My mother still lives in Tamworth, Staffs where I was born and raised and she always saves me interesting stuff from the local paper. I think most local newspapers have a section these days which focuses on the history of their particular area and the Tamworth Herald is no exception.

Because of the interest in libraries lately they took the opportunity to give a brief history of how they came about and how the one in Tamworth developed. Nowadays it's housed in a modern building but in the past it has been located in several different sites.

In the early days most libraries had a Reading Room. Tamworth's had a big open fire and was furnished with comfy armchairs. Apparently they were so comfortable that people would go in for a nice warm nap and so the armchairs had to go. On another occasion it was reported that 'single gentlemen of the borough, having done their washing, were using the Reading Room as a drying area, leaving items of personal clothing scattered around'. This, of course, was sternly discouraged.

Ah, those were the days...

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Reading Allowed

Continuing the library theme, I thought I'd tell you about an evening they held at my local last week.

The idea was that you go along and read out a favourite piece of writing. It could be prose, poetry, anything you like. I went along for several reasons: It sounded interesting, I like to do anything I can to support my library, it cost only £1, wine and nibbles were provided.

I was not disappointed. There were eighteen of us which wasn't bad for a chilly winter's night and the selection of reading material covered a wide range. There were classics such as Rebecca and the poem Kubla Khan. There was a novel called Duncton Wood which is apparently a bit like Watership Down with moles. A lady read out Psalm 23 (King James version). A gentleman read an extract from Spectator In Hell which is about the experiences of British troops in Auschwitz (some of us were not aware there were British soldiers in Auschwitz).

It brought to my attention some pieces of literature which I had forgotten and others which I have never read but may look up in the future. This was a good idea to make more use of our precious library service.

Monday, 7 March 2011


I went to another excellent night at Nottingham Writers' Club last week where we listened to novelist and psychotherapist Maxine Linnell. Maxine read extracts from her book 'Vintage' which is aimed at the young adult market and she explained where her inspirations came from. She reminded us of the time when, as a young girl, she regularly visited the library and borrowed books from the children's section. But it wasn't until the age of twelve that she was issued with an 'adult' ticket and a whole new world was opened up to her.

Nowadays there isn't such a strict divide. Booksellers are careful to market their young adult stock (can't call it 'teenage') so that it appeals to a wider range. There are also instances where the same book is given two different front covers - one that appeals to children and one for adults.

Maxine brought back memories of my own local library which had a similar arrangement. I don't think children were even allowed in the grown up's section and I remember once being told off for whistling as I entered the lobby. If you wanted any help you had to whisper. Now these institutions are open-plan and a combination of meeting place, temporary classroom and cyber-cafe. Infinitely more accessible, of course, but sometimes I still want to put a finger to my lips when someone rustles a newspaper a little too loudly.