Tag Archives: Library

TATE BRITAIN WILL OPEN ON JULY 27th

Tate Britain on Millbank, London

‘THANK YOU KEYWORKERS’ and ‘SEE YOU ALL SOON’ banners have been put up, with the small white ‘TATE BRITAIN IS CLOSED’ board by the front door ready to be removed. The black and white banner advertising the Beardsley exhibition is on the right.

It’s great that London art galleries are starting to open, though I’m not sure we’ll be brave enough to visit them and risk there being large crowds, even if the galleries themselves are set up to regard social distancing.

As well as Steve McQueen Year 3, described as one of the most ambitious portraits of children ever undertaken in the UK, Tate Britain will continue to show the Aubrey Beardsley exhibition which opened on March 4th. Then lockdown was imposed and the gallery closed on March 17th. However, on March 30th BBC4 showed an excellent program by Mark Gatiss about Beardsley, still available on iPlayer.

I knew Aubrey Beardsley’s work from his illustrations of Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books. I can visualise the tall bookcases in the children’s section of Whitechapel Library where his books lived. I was always small for my age and had to get a librarian to hand me one down. I assume the publisher didn’t use any of his more risqué drawings, but while they were a bit frightening, I loved them.

Since Tate Britain closed, we have been going there for our Sunday walks. It is always very peaceful – the occasional jogger, a few couples with a baby in a pushchair and a little Chinese grandfather we meet every week. He leads his toddler grandson up the stairs, round the side and down again; gives us a quick smile and walks on.

Our younger son has cycled over to meet us on a couple of Sundays. When I was taking a series of Art History classes in galleries, I bought a folding stool which was much lighter than those provided by the galleries. We took it with us so we could sit on the bench at the side of the stairs and Bernard could sit on the stool the required 2m away.

After July 27th we’ll have to change where we take our weekly exercise. Hopefully, the gallery will be very busy and it might be difficult for us to keep our distance outside.

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat

 

4 MONTHS IN DUALITUDE

The set of Dickens left me by my lovely Aunt Jenny

As we are 88 and 90, we’ll be confined for at least 4 months in our 9th floor flat. Luckily, we have a balcony that gets the sun in the afternoon. With the weather turning fine, we’ll be able to sit outside and read while getting a South of France tan. Luckily we went to the library just before this plague blew up and I still have six more books left to read. My lovely Aunt Jenny gave me her complete set of Dickens – the Hazell, Watson and Viney Ltd edition with illustrations by Phiz. If push comes to shove, I’ll re-read all 16 volumes. I was recovering from one of my several broken bones when I last ploughed my way through them all.

I planned on using this time to would get on with the sequel to my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’, learn another Bach Two Part Invention for the piano, and keep up with my Ancient Greek, but like my New Year resolutions, they fell at the first hurdle!!

We have a very pleasant newish Waitrose nearby in Nine Elms and the last two occasions we went before being confined to our home we had been sent a page of £4-off vouchers if we spent £40. We have always done most of our big grocery shopping in the Tesco’s and Sainsburys in Cromwell Road, only topping up with a few odds and ends in the more expensive Waitrose. On the first occasion, we made up the £40 with toilet paper and on the second with bread flour and yeast – I bake all our bread. Must have earned some good points with a Higher Power to make just those choices.

So, instead of being virtuous, and writing and practising and learning, I’ve been baking and cooking double quantities of dishes – eating half and freezing the other half. It’s so satisfying, starting off with some uninteresting looking powders, making the most heavenly smell, and then producing a great looking crusty load of bread.

The manager of our flats has set up a Whatsapp group so there are offers of help and friendship. And we all come to our balconies and windows to clap for the NHS on Thursdays at 8pm.

I hope those of you reading my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ will take some comfort from the stories of hard times past we all came through.

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat

Fantastic!! Grove Vale Library – a ‘new’ London library

 

Brand new premises

 

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.

Jolly mural in entrance

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.

Shelves stuffed with books but bookcases not much taller than me!

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!

The London Mandolin Ensemble at the Victoria Music Library, London

12 mandolin players, I double bass and the Musical Director, James Young
Nicely varied programme

Pleased that Victoria Music library invited the London Mandolin Ensemble back. There were 12 mandolinists and a double bass player – needed to give a bass ground. – under Musical Director James Young.

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 abby@abbyjw.com I will send you the first chapter and if you comment I will send you another. Hope to hear from you.

HIGHLIGHT TOURS OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM

The Great Court opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000
The Great Court opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

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.

Kind Ramesses II about 1279-1213 BC
Kind Ramesses II about 1279-1213 BC

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.

My favourite London Library

 

Charing X Library
Charing X Library

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.

Done and dusted!!

Liverpool Library. Will my book ever join them?
Liverpool Library. Will my book ever join them?

Finally checked all 17 chapters (95k words) of Woman in a White Coat for typos and clunky bits; double-spaced them, compiled them into one manuscript and emailed it all to Stephanie.

Do you think it would help if I crossed my eyes as well as my fingers and toes?

Working at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda USA

Visiting expert
Visiting expert

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.

Aren’t we lucky we still have public libraries?

The roof of Liverpool library
The roof of Liverpool library

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.