Quite a lot of people are stopping to ask me what I am doing, here in the foyer of the Library.
No, honestly, I promise I
am not making a exhibition of myself. I am not conducting a Golden Zumba session or tying myself to the Self Service machines in support of some worthy cause, or brandishing a placard carrying a passionate plea for something or other. Though, now I come to
write down the words, that all sounds really rather exciting. Maybe it is my Inner Rebel coming to the surface?
I may not be making an exhibition of myself, dear
readers, but I am in fact setting up an exhibition of other people’s work. My task this rainy Saturday afternoon is to fill a glass display case with thirty odd wooden “postcards”, each depicting one of the “behind the scenes”
visits undertaken by our Questers group. I have to admit that I personally produced not a single postcard though I did put together the accompanying manual explaining each visit in more detail for the discerning reader (or the one with too much time
on his / her hands.) It is surprising, perhaps, that I – the least artistic of all those involved in the project – should be here in the library setting our wares for all to see. Possibly, as is my wont, I simply failed to step back
when the call went out for volunteers...
I had taken all the boxes of postcards along to the library on Friday morning after choir so that they could be stored
in someone’s office until Saturday afternoon. A helpful gent named Justin had shown me how I could drive down a steep ramp to the very bowels of the library and ring on a telephone attached to the wall outside the loading bay. This would, he promised
me, summon someone to let me and my precious cargo in. I followed his instructions to the letter, even remembering to remind Mr B (who undertook to drive me there) to sound his horn at a given point to alert any cars or pedestrians coming up the
ramp while we were driving down it. Justin had said that he would write everything down in the staff diary so that I would be expected but this didn’t quite turn out as he had foretold.
“Are you the organiser?” asked the rather flustered young woman who came down to greet me. I considered this for a bit, then replied that I was not exactly the organiser but was just here to set up the display. It
turned out that she thought I was there for a meeting of some unspecified local group to be held in the library. Having sorted out this minor misunderstanding, she shepherded me and my precious property up in the lift and we safely installed
the boxes in a corner of the absent Justin’s office.
Collecting them from the office has been the least of my worries this afternoon. Another kind
gent (the library is full of them, it truly is) unlocks the glass display case and brings the boxes of postcards down from Justin the Absent’s office for me. While he is doing this, I gaze at the display case which looks somewhat smaller than I
remember it. Would all our postcards fit in, I wonder. Plus, even more worrying, is the case sufficiently deep to accommodate some of the postcards which are portrait rather than landscape?
It is as I am unwrapping each postcard from its protective covering (aka kitchen roll) that people start to stop to look and ask me about the display. I show them the details written on the back of each postcard and the real
stamp – neither of which, sadly, will be visible when the display case is locked up. Several tell me of visits they have made to the places depicted on the postcards and say the postcards have evoked happy memories. That’s the whole
point of postcards, don’t you think? Nobody says this about the visit to the sewage plant, to be fair.
It takes me an hour to set up the display, though
much of this time is spent explaining to people that, no, it isn’t all my own work and telling them about the amazing talents of others whose work it is. My final task is to affix the explanatory posters to the wall above the display case which
involves much uncomfortable stretching. I am left unsure if I have (i) used enough Blu-Tak to secure them for the next fortnight and (ii) hung them more or less straight. This is when I need Mr B and his Printer’s Eye.
It is the Moment of Truth. The glass lid is lowered gently into place. Will the tall postcards topple over? Will I have to set out the display all over again?
It’s fine! There is nary a hair’s breadth between the top of the taller postcards and the glass lid but they are all staying firmly put. I breathe an enormous sigh of relief. I feel
like dancing a little jig of satisfaction.
But then that would really be making an exhibition of myself...