Well not a completely new library – a previous library moved across the road to sparkling new premises adjoining a super-convenient, very tempting, M & S Food Hall. Great to see at a time when libraries are closing down or losing staff.
A jolly mural in the entrance could keep a child busy for ages finding all the different animals and buildings. So different from the somber Victorian facades we’re so used to.
I miss the towering shelves in the old Whitechapel library stretching up to the 10 foot high ceilings. I used to have to stand on one of those rolling stools to reach.
Health and safety would have something to say about that now!
They played a varied programme of Baroque, Classical and Modern music.
For me, the adaptation of Handel’s Water Music didn’t work – you really need the full force of an orchestra. In spite of there being 12 players it sounded thin. However, The two concertos – one by Nicola Conforto (1718-1793) and the other by Johann Adolf Hasse (1699-1783) were very pleasing as was the modern mood piece Tänkeplatsen by Olof Näslund (1952- ).
The most enjoyable pieces were the last three modern pieces with a Brazilian twist that worked really well for the ensemble – Sleepwalk by Santo and Johnny Farina, Stone Flower by Antönio Carlos Jobim (1927-1994) and best of all You only live twice by John Barry (1933-2011).
Very much look forward to the next concert at the Victoria Music Library – always a pleasant surprise.
Note: Now that I’m getting into my stride finishing my memoir Woman in a White Coat, if you email me at email@example.com I will send you the first chapter and if you comment I will send you another. Hope to hear from you.
Not free, but very good value at £12, the British Museum runs 90 minute Highlight Tours of some of the most well-known of its millions of artefacts from all over the world including the Rosetta Stone, the Lewis Chessmen, the enormous Easter Island basalt statue known as Hoa Hakanai’a, the fabulous human-headed winged bulls from Assyria and much more.
For me, the British Museum has above all been about the wonderful sculptures and wall paintings from ancient Egypt – though as a child the mummies in their sarcophagi used to terrify me. The Pharaohs may have been cruel and incestuous and probably quite ugly to boot, but their statues and masks speak of a transcendent serenity.
Charing Cross library is my favourite London library. Set close to Chinatown, there is always a sprinkling of Chinese decorations as well as a considerable library of books in Chinese. The staff are friendly and helpful and. for someone with a painful hip. the fact that my bus stop is right outside is a big plus.
If I have enough time I can get off at a stop further on and shop for Chinese goodies in Chinatown.
Had a wonderful 3 months working at NIH – libraries open 7am – midnight weekdays and open on Sundays. Our London medical school library was open 9.30am – 6pm weekdays only. The facilities were incredible. There was a supermarket in the basement – not for food, but for chemicals and laboratory equipment – test tubes, beakers, retort stands. You just needed your departmental card and a trolley. I was used to waiting 6 weeks just for a new measuring cylinder.
From my memoir Woman in a White Coat I’d got a bus out to the local shopping mall and on the way back I was the only passenger. The driver picked up on my English accent. ‘I’ve been to good old England,’ he said. ‘Did the whole country in a week. Where you staying while you’re here?’ I told him I was lodging in Julian Road. ‘No problem,’ he said, turning off the main road. He dropped me right at the door. ‘Glad to be of service, Ma’am,’ he said, waving goodbye. After six weeks at NIH I flew to London for a long weekend. On my return to Washington, I was scared when the driver of my taxi coming from the airport turned off the freeway. ‘Shouldn’t we be going straight on?’ I asked. ‘Just have to get some gas.’ I was sure that this was it – the day I’d be robbed, raped or murdered, or all three. I was wrong. After paying for the petrol ‘Well, that turnoff is down to me. I’ll switch the meter off now’ he said. He even carried in my case for me.
We went to Liverpool for a long weekend to see the Chagall exhibition at Tate Liverpool and visited their wonderful new library – so different from the library I belonged to when I lived in Petticoat Lane.
From my memoir Woman in a White Coat
I joined Whitechapel library as soon as I was five. Once a week I bundled up the books I had read and walked down Wentworth Street to the Commercial Street crossing. ‘Find a big man to take you across the road and make sure you hold his hand tight,’ my mother said. ‘No skipping or messing about as you go.’ I got used to the remarks about how little my hand was, and how the books were nearly as big as me. All I wanted, was to hurry up, get to the library as quickly as possible, and borrow some new books. Whitechapel Children’s Library was huge, with bookshelves stretching from floor to ceiling. You needed one of those rolling steps to reach the top. We were allowed to take out six books. I always chose at least one book of fairy tales and one myths and legends book. The Andrew Lang fairy books were my favourites and I was fascinated by the Aubrey Beardsley illustrations. I’d choose a book or two from the Angela Brazil’s girls’ boarding school stories and over the years moved on to boys’ books. I learned the cricket and rugby rules and thrilled to the Biggles books. I found Richmal Crompton’s ‘Just William’ books funny, but boring after the first couple. I had to be brave if I wanted to look something up in the Children’s Encyclopaedia. I had to climb the steep stairs up to the Reference Library, hurrying past the glass cases filled with stuffed animals. The foxes, with their big teeth and staring eyes, were especially frightening, and I hated seeing the tiny stuffed birds stuck on twigs.