Saturday 14th March and I’m back again. Not sure if I should have eaten something first as I’ve been at a school open day and now feel a little light headed. Don’t want to run out of time for browsing before last stampings at the checkout. A nice lady had a chat with me as I returned my books. I asked if I needed to take my music score back to the Music Library department. “Everyone is different” she pointed out and I discovered she could easily check them in for me if I wasn’t going down there, but that as I was, taking them down would help her out. Amongst the music score I found “Smike” based freely on the story of Nicholas Nicklby with music by Tony Hatch. My memories are from when we put on this show at school in the 80’s. Rumours abound this production. It was said that one teacher, who was eccentric to say the least, got a coffin on the 86 routemaster, but this seemed rather far-fetched. She certainly took her role as props mistress seriously. It was also said that she mixed up her own version of Brimstone and Treacle to get a more authentic reaction when the children took a spoonful!
The book London Ghosts by HV Morton from the London collection didn’t quite live up to the title. No ghost stories here. Rather cleverly it is about jobs occupations and characters that Morton has seen disappear from London. And that is in the 1930’s
By home time it had been a little too much for some. One young man was snoring soundly in the periodicals, his laptop on screen saver. In the music scores, one young lady is surreptitiously eating a Tunnocks Tea Cake. Now there’s an Olympic legacy for you.
I guess that I out grew my local libraries. I had been to many of them in my London Borough, but increasingly, the books I wanted were only available in the stack, and that is no good for browsing. The books that I might be interested in were being replaced with biographies of pop stars, to young to mean anything to me and television programs of little interest.
A friend suggested that as I am always looking for musical scores, I might like to join the Barbican Library. She said that it was excellent for Performing Arts, adding that there were pianos with headphones you could book. I was sold.
I signed up online. Just a few quick questions. Then a week later, armed with my driving license, I presented myself to collect my ticket. I was given a quick guide to how the system worked and then I was left on my own. And what an amazing place it is.
The idea of this blog is to share some of the things I find while browsing through this unique collection of books. I hope there will be some facts that might interest you as we go along.
I have varied interests. I tend to focus on something, and then change tack and look for something else. I seem to retain obscure facts about the history of London which I like to share with others.
So what did I come out with today?
Amongst other things, a copy of the musical Pippin by Stephen Schwartz opening in 1972 and running for a respectable 1,944. I love the song “Corner of the sky” which I used with a Performing Arts Class once, playing the tune by ear as I couldn’t find the score. Now I had a chance to see if I had the tune correct!
And then, having discovered the marvellous London collection, I came out with a 1960’s biography of Mr Selfridge himself.