The Reading Room 07
I rounded off a visit to Costa Coffee by reading some of The Stepford Wives, a novel about the ultimate men’s club, before heading off to what I jokingly referred to as my own: late night library Wednesday in the reading room.
The week before there was only me and the Rubber Band Man in, him with his all-seeing eye, although it looked like he’d had a makeover as for some reason he no longer resembled an all-weather Royal Mail package.
This time, however, he was absent and somewhere an archive newspaper crossword was going un-defaced. Apart from the reappearance of the late Charles Hawtrey the character slack was taken up by a middle aged man across the table from me, who for some reason was stood up despite the fact that he was reading a paper, and with his waist on public display I could see that he was wearing a belt with a copper buckle tucked under his gut which bore the legend: “Place penny in slot and turn knob”.
You never have the right change to hand, when you need it, do you?
The week before, with only the two of us, the staff must’ve been so bored that they decided to take it out on what members they had and, looking out from behind their secure wooden counter, they must’ve viewed one oddball, setting about the papers, and me, over by the window leaning back two inches on my chair. Obviously, for a trained librarian, there was only one choice and he must have come screaming down on me like Bishop Brennan.
The first I knew about it was when I casually rocked back onto all fours and turned to see him, as he materialised by my side, and I looked up at him with innocent doe-like eyes as if to say: What?
He was apoplectic, already defeated, and almost screamed at me: “I was going to tell you to be careful on your chair!”
His exit was a lot more muted than his arrival.
COMING NEXT: The climactic final episode in the Reading Room. It isn’t going to end well.