23 January 2011

700 Penguins



I have joined the Poetry Library. 5th floor, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank. Small but perfect. It houses reference and loan copies of poetry from 1912 onwards. The librarians are mostly lovely inoffensively-attractive males. There are even big bright floor cushions in a corner for children, where they can sit and read, or be read to by their parents.

A section of the shelving is movable, adjustable. There are big wheels and a lock system on the side of them. There are notices up reminding browsers to check that there is no-one between the shelves before they start moving them together. I can imagine having a romantic tryst with some young, bespectacled, tentatively-bearded poet amid these claustrophobic shelves, our hands touching as we both reach for Ted Hughes.



It's not love's letter that poetry holds,
but the charm of the love that drew it forth
from the silence...

I try to get lost in this library. Or at least in the words in this library. I try. I succeed in getting lost in the 700 Penguin covers. The 700 book-worlds that were a gift and make me stare and stare and escape.

3 comments:

Ma said...

700 is a very exact number. Pa says he's guessing there is a notice somewhere that tells you this fact. I prefer to imagine you going along all the rows and counting them, every one.

Mike said...

I think there was an episode of Midsomer murders where a young, bespectacled librarian was caught in a moving shelf system; probably by an elderly, bespectacled full-bearded librarian pushed beyond rationality into rage because Ted Hughes was dog-eared and coffee-stained, and by jealousy of romantic trysts. Not a lot was left - a little strawberry jam or tomato ketchup spread across the collected works of Byron perhaps.

I only have a vague memory of this particular episode (was the young Rufus Sewell playing the poet?), but be careful - I'm just saying.

anna said...

Man, I love Rufus Sewell even MORE than I love Ted. Especially as Seth in Cold Comfort Farm.
Also, you should totally write for Midsummer Murders. Or maybe be the new Agatha Christie.
And Ma, I was actually referring to this http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780141031880,00.html
when I was wittering about Penguins. It was my Christmas present. And is a treat.