Thursday, January 8, 2009


I just read Fancy French's post here.

Early on my mother tried hard to get her sons to read books. She had read "Le Rouge et le Noir" when she was five, she claimed. I was a little dyslexic anyway I now know, but nevertheless my brothers and I only yearned to read, (or look at the pictures in), more comic books. When she found them, she would throw them out, so that we invented the most ingenious places to hide them.

It was when I was away at school, that I discovered the pleasure of reading, but what I wanted to write about was the absolute thrill of two English libraries.

When I was nineteen, my mother remembered that she had a life time membership in what was called "The London Library". We lived then in Soho, so it was quite close. It had a good stock of expensive art books and, best of all, there was rarely anyone there. It probably survived on all those "life memberships" from the thirties.

Later a friend advised me that you could get a pass for the reading room of the British Museum. That one was well attended. What a thrill. I handled an exact copy of Da Vinci's drawings in the stacks, which at that time were not closed to the public. I spent two days there I will never forget.

Here in Toronto, you can order any book, CD, video tape or DVD that they have in the city and have it delivered to your local. Is it now thus in London?

1 comment:

French Fancy said...

Fancy living in Soho. It is not like it used to be - all the sleazy side of it (well almost) has disappeared and it is now very arty and chichi (and gay).

I don't know about London library procedure anymore. I used to be able to put in a reading request for a new book and - if it wasn't already ordered - they would get it for you in about a week. I think there have been lots of cutbacks since then though.

Well done on remembering how to do a link :)