I’m out on another Barbican Library ramble and I’m feeling guilty. I have so much I should be doing for work but ive decided these days out to observe and learn things are as important. I’m also feeling a little guilty over something that happened on my last ramble and I failed to report. It started on the Hammersmith and City Line Train just after Mile End. A young man came along the carriage and put something on the seats next to me. He didn’t look, I looked away. I noticed that it was a small packet of Kleenex tissues with a note. I glanced down and the handwritten note said that his friend was starving and he was trying to get some money together to help him. I watched him carry along the carriage, placing tissues, not looking, just staring. I saw a lady open her purse and give him some change. He took his note off of the tissues and gave her the packet. He then doubled back, picking up the tissues and moving on. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to be the only one who gave him some money. I ignored him. Over the next weeks I thought more about it. I actually applauded the way he was trying to do something without begging. Offering something in return for some money. The tissues were not important. The gesture was. Today as I get on the train I’m hoping he will come along again so I can carry out my well practised routine. But of course, it doesn’t happen.
The Library is noisy today. There is some experimental workshop somewhere in the building with chanting, wailing and percussion. The man next to me in the Music Library study area is playing his laptop as if he is giving a piano recital. I glare but he is engrossed. I’m pleased to see there is a new issue of What’s New: The magazine published by Barbican Library and given away free. I love a library taking the time and effort to produce something like this. It reminds me why I travel up to town to visit. I get out several books including one on Victorian Parlour Songs and another on Trades for London Boys 1912. Maybe a change of job is on the cards!
I come out of a different exit from the High Walk way and find myself passing the Barbican Laundrette which is proclaiming that they use Soft water. There is one young man in there and it all looks very familiar. More My Beautiful Laundrette than EastEnders. I carry on past the Shakespeare Pub with its sign saying 1964 and come across the Barbican Greengrocers and Fruiterers which still has its CLE code for the telephone number. A quick look up on google confirms it was the code for Clerkenwell just around the corner. I pass The Italia Conti Drama School in what looks like a modern office block and turn the corner. Clerkenwell feels like a village and should be applauded for its independent shops.
Eventually I come to University Land and cross paths with a Professor, swaying slightly, who’s leather bag has come undone to reveal a bottle of Gin and a bottle Tonic amongst the papers. What. No Ice and a Lemon?