Overheard and seen in Woodbridge Library, Oct 2013-February 2014

This was first published by Pear Drop in February this year.

October 21st, 2013

The volunteer who teaches older people to use computers brings a pair of leather slippers to change into when he is in the library.
The Lady and the Luddite
By Linden Salter is the first book I laid eyes on when I came to the library : I have not yet picked it up, but my guess is that it is a romantic novel concerning a socially problematic love affair between an aristocratic woman and a weaver who rebelled during the Luddite uprisings in the early 19th century.
Companies and Markets
Since I started coming here last week, I have realised that the most read item in the library is the ‘Companies & Markets’ section of the Financial Times. Further to this initial observation, I overheard a lengthy discussion about Facebook’s IPO between the old man with a comb over and bad varicose veins who always wears shorts and the young male librarian who did not know what ‘T-H-E-O-L-O-G-Y’ meant. The old man appears to be re-enacting a routine from before his retirement: he always carries a tired old briefcase containing ‘Investor’s Chronicle’. The young male librarian who did not know the meaning of theology was very knowledgeable about shares. My conclusion is that people in Suffolk are very knowledgeable about the financial markets.
The “Shabbiest Man in Town”
is the title that the old man who always wears shorts and carries a briefcase containing ‘Investor’s Chronicle’, gave himself on Friday. He seemed to take great pleasure in this assertion.
The Man from the Train
On Friday I saw a man in the library who I had seen about a month previously on the train from Woodbridge to London. This made me feel like he might think I was spying on him. I am not. But I also doubt that the opposite is true.
The Lady on the Mobility Scooter
Several days last week she ate her lunch and then slept in her scooter on the library wheelchair ramp for a few hours before doing a tour of the library, where she was greeted by many people in the library. All of the librarians know her name but I have not yet learned it.

October 22nd

Said the woman at the photocopying machine:
“When I was defending British interests across the water, I always used to argue that we were so honest. But that was in the past.”
Under the table
A woman in her mid-seventies read Fifty Shades of Grey under the table.
Stamps of The World 2012
A man sat down next to me, extracted his stamp album from his bag, and proceeded to identify and log the origin of his collection using Stamps of The World 2012, vol. 3. He talked to himself intermittently.
Going Live
Last week the library went live with a WiFi connection for the first time. I liaised with the librarian dealing with it during the day as it got over its teething problems, because I was the sole user. I am still the sole user.

October 23rd

Before Going Live on WiFi
When I first logged on to a library computer it logged me off after 30 seconds and would not let me log on again. I saw a man’s name on the top left of the screen and I did not know what that meant. Unable to log on, I left the computer and an old man who had been hanging around behind me sat down in my place. Then I saw a sign which read that computers can be reserved and I realised that the old man’s reserved session had begun when I was logged on.
A genre I was not familiar with before now. A canine with the name of Pudsey has written one that is on the shelf next to me.
“Barrie tells me it’s the duck who drags him here”
From the story ‘Ugly duckl-inn’ in the October issue of Mature Times telling of a man who brings his duck, Star, to the pub. According to Barrie, Star “just won’t mix with the other ducks and became distressed when I tried to put him with them. […] He is a bit of an exhibitionist.”The same edition features a story about Britain’s oldest glamour model, on page 3.
As well as a pair of slippers (see post entitled ‘Slippers’) the volunteer who shows people how to use computers also brings in his own cushion, which is striped like a deck chair. He places it on a chair next to him when he is assisting people on the computer and puts his (slippered) feet on it.
The Most Popular
place in the library is its lavatory. I believe it is the sole reason behind a high number of visits to the library.
“Is she going to drop down dead?”
said the librarian to the man who asked if his daughter could have a glass of water. The librarian would have had to go to the staff room to retrieve a cup of water. The man asked his daughter: “you’re not going to drop down, are you? ”The librarian did not retrieve a glass of water for the girl.
Due to rain
the lady with the mobility scooter relocated from the steps of the library to just outside the lavatory. She slept for several hours, waking twice to use the adjacent facility.She wears a thick line of dark blue kohl on the top of her lids, indicating that she remains affected by 1960s make-up styles, when she would have been young.

November 1st

“…sobbing in the corner”
said one librarian to the other. He replied: “yeaaaah”I didn’t hear the rest.
“exactly the same name, exactly the same – 
but he lived in Bury St Edmunds! It seemed extraordinary that he should have exactly the same name as me!” said the man on the mobility scooter wearing a poppy to the woman sitting next to him. She did not seem to know his name. She left the library shortly after.

January 14th, 2014 

“Fat Cat…”
she says, referring to the book in her hand as she leafs through. “This is the one that…” and then a comment I can’t hear. I suppose her cat is overweight, but as time passes she picks up more and more books referring to different species, pausing and making further comments as she does so – ending with horses. She pauses on a page: “I like this one’s face”, she says to her husband, who attends nearby. I am not convinced she was seeking advice for a pet, I think she likes the pictures.

January 15th

“Who’s been playing last?”
says one woman to the other, looking at the scorecard.
“Maybe Peter and Moira”, says the other, reading the initials.
“It’s so warm. I’m having a hot flush I think”“Still?” says the other.
Two more arrive and they set up the Scrabble.
An intense conversation about cat hotels ensues.
“She’s got a van called ‘Paws for Thought.’”
They have all seen it.
“I’ve only got one vowel”
“They let them out hungry, so they come back for their food.”
“They let them out when in bad weather too, so they come back. It’s the opposite of what you’d think, isn’t it? But you can see why.”

January 16th

“That’s Why They Thought it Was Good for You…”
they got the decimal point in the wrong place.” Said one woman to two others around the photocopying machine.
What did they say about spinach?
“Well you know Popeye, and that it was so good for you with all that iron – but it’s because they put the decimal point in the wrong place.”
….‘We were at a teahouse, quite a polite place, and a woman pulled up in a four-by-four and Susan said, “you fucking disgusting bitch. Yes, you fucking disgusting gas-guzzling bitch”
– yes, that’s what she said.’
…“The Oxford comma, do you know that? I amazed everybody with that. There was a place when it wasn’t grammatically correct and I said ‘yes, but it’s an Oxford comma, it can emphasise or clarify.
Yes, and there’s an example with commas that makes Mandela look as though he’s an axe-murderer or something.’”

January 21st

“She had a good arse,
before arses were in fashion”, said a teenage girl to her friends.

February 11th

“Healing without Freud or Prozac”
by Dr David Servan-Schreiber lay beside her, while she read a large-format book on domestic bird care.

February 26th

The Man from the Train (see post October 21, 2013)
sits opposite, filling in all of the vowels in a passage he has written with a blue biro.
Toddler’s singing group
takes place on Wednesday and Friday mornings in the library’s main reading room. It lasts for over an hour.



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