From my Summer Reading Challenge desk at our local library, I only need to glance upwards to see the screen displaying a view of the revolving entrance doors, as captured by the Ever Watchful Eye of the CCTV cameras.
Which makes it all the more surprising that I completely failed to witness the most excitingly dramatic event of the day, if not, indeed, the whole year. In short, Somebody
managed to drive his mobility scooter into the revolving doors, smashing them to pieces. And I missed it!
I remain completely unjudgemental when various members
of library staff relate the story of the Unfortunate Happening to me. This is because I know, full well, that had he not been safely at home watching the racing from Haydock Park on TV, it could have been Mr B creating glassy havoc. I suspect that, like Mr
B, the driver had failed to reduce his speed on the dial from 8 miles per hour to minimum when required to carry out delicate manoeuvres. Like negotiating revolving doors. Or any door, for that matter.
Mr B has had a number of Tricky Encounters with walls, doors and various immovable objects when driving the Grandadmobile. Regular readers may remember when he drove into a wall at the local Polling Station at the last elections.
I described it as one of the Costs of Democracy and applied, forthwith, for a postal vote for him in future. This request has now been granted, fortunately without the need for me to provide any substantiating evidence of need - though I could, of course,
have sent photos of the bashed-in front of the Grandadmobile.
I suspect the reason I failed to witness the Incident of the Revolving Doors was because it was very,
very busy on the Summer Reading Challenge desk. With just a week to go, many littl’uns have just realised that they need to get a move on if they are to be rewarded with a drum roll on the desk, a certificate with their name carefully written in the
felt tip pen of their choice, and a “gold” medal on a length of thin purple ribbon.
Whichever volunteer was given the task of stringing the medals
has unfortunately been less than generous with the ribbon, meaning it's far too short to go over the heads of even the smallest and youngest of medal winners. Had I had time I would have happily restrung them all but there was a relentless queue of readers
awaiting my attention.
Lovely Frances, the Children’s Librarian, has been advising the youngsters to think about choosing books which they can read
quickly and easily, in the interests of finishing the challenge and not falling at the last hurdle. More than one has therefore opted for books like “Where’s Wally?” which present few opportunities for meaningful discussion about their contents
beyond the obvious. I was, however, delighted when one of the last lads to present himself at the desk before the library closed at 5 p.m. had read my grandson James’s favourite book about a time travelling hamster.
Just before closing time, an elderly woman came over to ask me what I was doing, what was it all about. I explained that the Challenge was a national scheme by the Reading Agency to encourage 4 - 11
year olds to keep reading during the long summer holidays. What a great idea! she applauded.
Then she started to reminisce about the very first time she borrowed
a book from the children’s library - those were the days when you had to be seven years old to join the library.
“I will always remember,”
she told me, “How they stamped my book and trusted me to bring it back. I’ve never forgotten it, that feeling of being trusted…”
thought of it like that before but I saw what she meant. In these days when books are cheap and plentiful, when even babies can join the library and borrow several books at a time, it's difficult to imagine a time when it wasn't like that, when books were
scarce and expensive, when the library was a most welcome haven for the young bookworm desperate to discover for him or herself all the new adventures waiting on the bookshelves.
Finding that special book, taking it to be stamped by the librarian with a return date. The excitement, the anticipation, the sheer joy of discovery.
yes, being trusted with a treasure beyond price.