Small people with BIG VOICES inhabit the library.
The space in front of the counter is their stage.
Their business is everybody’s business.
Along time ago before gay rights was heard of a small man boomed out in the quiet hallway, that HE WOULD LIKE THE BOOK OF HOMOSEXUAL VERSE and he quoted an editor whose name I can’t remember.
You could have heard the proverbial pin drop.
The librarian’s face went red.
Sometimes big people with small squeaky voices demand attention.
There is a continual hullabaloo of one sort or another.
Once I went up to the counter and asked for a particular journal in a calm, quiet voice.
It took ages to get attention.
Once I spent a whole day in silence. What made it a real challenge was I did this while teaching. I began the day mute with my family whom I had forewarned the night before and continued it in the classroom with my students pointing to my throat when explaining my inability to talk. Somehow the students went along with it and did the tasks I set them though a few seemed genuinely perturbed. It was more difficult with my fellow teachers in the staffroom but I managed to maintain the silence. It was very calming and I hoped it was calming for my students too. It is something everyone should try at least once. Monks do it so why don’t we?
* E L Doctorow
– A lot of people go there, she says.
– There, she says, pointing to a bus sailing past, its destination flashing on the front. ‘Not In Service.’
– It’s a popular destination, I say, but the funny thing is no matter what the weather or time no one ever seems to be on board.
– ‘cept the driver, she says.
– ‘cept the driver.
Very early in his memoir and on the cusp of adulthood Oliver Sacks in ‘On the Move’ refers to his mother’s outrage when she discovers his sexual predilection. An otherwise open woman, she is haunted by ‘the terrible verses in Leviticus’ against ‘lying with mankind’ as opposed to womankind, and calls her son ‘an abomination’. In the church I used to attend, the same text was referenced whenever the topic was brought up and the same strict stance taken. I wonder how many people it drove away. It seems so out of step with the times.
Once upon a time, so a poem by Billy Collins reminds us,
All men wore hats; but now it is a rarity like men
Standing up for ladies on a bus; now I wear one, a jaunty
Trilby won at Mick O’Shea’s pub on St. Patricks day.
I take it off to my friends when they have done well or put
A feather in it when I have accomplished something of note;
When a challenge confronts me I throw my hat into the ring
And whenever Larry comes into the room, I doff it in respect.
I had some time to kill so I browsed through the Community Notice Board at Aldinga Central outside Louis’ Café. There were the usual offerings: Woodwork, Face Painting, Poetry Writing Workshops, Quilt Weaving and this — Mosiacs. It caught my attention. What could this be? The picture accompanying the information on the brochure portrayed a group of happy people working on some sort of group project, a bit like assembling a big jigsaw puzzle. There was little information except the challenge to ‘explore your hidden artistic talent in this creative and popular course.’ I immediately signed up via email. The course starts next Monday. I can’t wait to see what it is.
Pete Saubers has come across an old trunk buried in the woods. He opens it. Inside among other things — envelopes stuffed with hundred dollar bills — he finds notebooks, over a hundred of them. He opens one at random. It is in cursive and headed Chapter 27. It must be a novel, he thinks. ‘With that many pages, its pretty much got to be’. He starts reading and finds it interesting. ‘He wouldn’t mind hunting through the notebooks and finding the one where it started. Seeing if it really was good.’
And then ten-year old Pete raises a really interesting question: ‘Because you couldn’t tell if a novel was good from just a single page, could you?’
What do you think?
Can you decide from reading a page at random whether a book is worth reading?
Have you ever chosen a book from this principal?