Library Finale

I think reading books in public has gone out of style. Or else, that is just denial speak for giving up. Today, I made the decision not to visit Blackpool Library again, at least not alone. I thought I could beat the system. I thought I could be alone there and not be bothered in any way. It is no longer a solo project. I can go into the gambling den that is Coral Island and there are no problems there. i think because everyone is busy haemorrhaging money. Coral Island is not interested in the sin of sex, at least not until kicking out time. They’re interested in that other addiction.

If I want to be left alone to read, then Blackpool Library is not the place to go. I don’t want to be unaccompanied or un-escorted there, from now on. Or rather I don’t want to be. I thought I could hack it. Unfortunately not. I may have tried to make a joke of it, earlier on, this year, or rather last year. I did the whole bravado thing, but I know when I’m defeated and there were so many people there last time I was there, too many and none of them were reading books. In fact, over in the cafe, there was some kind of open friendship day with the amazing aroma of well cooked, quality meals and all these friendly faces. But I can’t just walk into a sea of strangers, however much they smile so beautifully and smell of delicious food.

So I went into the quieter section but of course, the quieter section has its own problems. Everyone with social issues goes to the quiet section. My niece, who has always been very wise for her young years, advised about negative experiences regarding people. She said, ‘You’ll never see that person again, so don’t stress about it.’ That was always a comforting thing but recently, I discovered, to my horror, that is not strictly true. The straw that broke the camels back was once again, seeing a  Misery style Annie Wilkes (played by Kathy Bates in the original film, based on the novel by Stephen King).

She had returned. The first time, I saw her, she followed me around and then took photos, when she’d got a good full frontal shot. I think it was her blatant over confidence which disturbed me most, just like Annie Wilkes. She was defiant, confrontational and self important, like she had a right to stand in front of me and take photos without my permission, just like Annie Wilkes. You can get arrested for that in Dubai.

Why couldn’t I just laugh about it, why take it all so seriously? This is a woman with thoughts and feelings and hopes and fears, just like everyone else, but I’m sure Annie Wilkes has thoughts and feelings and fears. It all just felt too much of an invasion of personal space. The fact that she was holding up an envelope and not a camera, means nothing. It was the fact that she felt it was a camera and that’s all that matters. What if she felt it was a knife and came at me with it? An A 4 jiffy envelope might not do that much damage, if she tried to stab me with it, but still, imagine the trauma. It’s the intention behind it, that’s the important thing. If they think it’s a knife, then in their mind they’ve stabbed you with it and are trying to cause serious harm.

But this time, thankfully, I had a witness. ‘Look,’ I said, to my husband, ‘there she is. There’s the woman who’s been taking photo’s/videos of me with an envelope.’ It was a huge relief to be able to prove there was a woman, who, as we spoke, was indeed taking pictures with a big brown envelope and really meant it. When I produced a witness, she ran off. She ran last time, once she’s cottoned on, that I’d cottoned on. One moment there, one moment gone.

My husband had to go off for half an hour and he leaves me here precisely because he thinks it’s a nice safe, quiet place for this hothouse flower to be, but I was grabbing at his shirt sleeve and saying ‘Please, don’t leave me!’

This is a library. I shouldn’t be saying things like that in a library. That sad truth was, I was scared of this woman. I theorised that she was mentally ill and not some undercover journalist, as I’d first fantasied. And that made me feel guilty but no less afraid, as there seemed to be a certain maliciousness in her actions, like Annie Wilkes. So I now had guilt, as well as fear, to add to my arsenal of negative emotions. I wasn’t relieved that she may have mental health issues, obviously, but I was relieved that she wasn’t a conspiracy person. Yet, things were coming to a head, because I was thinking of the infestation of P.U.A’s and all the intoxicated, middle aged divorced men and disenfranchised people, all of us, hovering like lost souls, among the books, but not really reading them. One thing I did do here though, as well as hovering like a lost soul, is read books, but no-one else seems to think that’s what this library is for.

Ninety percent of the visitors here are in the multi media section, on the internet, right next to the cafe. No-one’s interested in books, really, not the smell of them, not the look of them, or the touch of them. Am I the only one that has this fetish? For years, men have read newspapers in libraries. I remember them, hidden behind their gently rustling ‘Daily Mirrors’ in my youth. So, I understand, that’s a thing, I get that, that’s a library staple, but why isn’t anyone here reading the books?

And then it hit me, not only is everyone on the internet and not only is no-one reading the books, I’m the only woman in the reading sections, apart from Ms Envelope Camera. It’s always all men. Middle aged men reading newspapers, not books. P.U.A‘s pretending to read, not reading. No women, at all, unless they are there for social purposes, in social groups, or in the cafe, making friends and eating wonderful food, or taking pictures of people with envelopes.

Oh, why do I want people to read books so much. Why?

I love the uniqueness of this library but not the unpredictability. Perhaps I should welcome that in this mundane, greyed out world, but I don’t like surprises and I had a bit of a panic attack last time. So instead of sitting quietly and reading, which I didn’t feel able to do, I went to Coral Island and gambled.

But the gambling den was a breath of fresh air, especially when you’re just on the Two Penny Falls. A lot of fun to be had and you do win stuff. I wasn’t down by more than seven pounds fifty by the end of it all, and with a couple of cheap but nifty plastic key-rings to show for it.

No one will bother you at Coral island and you’ll be able to spend as much money as you don’t have there. It’s so noisy and chaotic and Earnest Hemingway is nowhere to be seen and yet…even if you love books, you will feel safe. It’s like a library should be, but without any books. Safety comes in numbers and bright lights, never forget that.


The Continuing Saga Of Strange Things Happening To Me In Blackpool Library

Today, I was in Blackpool Central Library, at 3 p.m. I was returning some books and already knew which ones I was getting out next. A little bit O.C.D maybe, but then we can afford to be now and again can’t we, as long as it doesn’t interfere with our lives, which it can do and often does… but moving swiftly on.

Here are the books I got out. Delton Welch – I Left My Grandfather’s House and The Complete Fairy Tales by Charles Perrault. 

Anyway, I’ve already experienced strange, disturbing or usual things happening to me in Blackpool Central library and it’s extremely consistent. I just want to make it clear that it doesn’t happen anywhere else in Blackpool, or anywhere else in my life, or in any other libraries in the Wyre or Blackpool area, and these things ALWAYS happen to me when I ‘appear’ to be on my own.

The bare bones of it is, I got into the library with my husband, then my husband and I separated at that point (not in real life, just in the library) so that he could look at his books in his aisles and I could look at mine. I picked the books I wanted, within seconds, and then got that strange feeling that you get, when eyes start burning into your back and instinct tells you to look round.

I saw a woman about twenty five feet away from me and she appeared to have a camera and appeared to be taking photos and/or filming me. Now I wasn’t big headed enough or paranoid enough at that stage, to think she was ‘taking pictures’ of me, so I thought. ‘Oh, she must be taking pictures of the beautiful stained glass windows.’ Now Blackpool central library have some beautiful stained glass windows, at its rear, so it wasn’t unlikely that she might be grabbing images of them.

Still, I decided, instinctively, that I wanted to move on at that point, so I did. I walked down the main aisle and turned right, twice at the lights, into another section.

Well, lo and behold, said woman followed me. Not only did she follow me but she stood right in front of me, about five feet from me. She was aged 50- 60. 5 foot 5 inches and her and Kathy Bates were separated at birth. She had the same confident, focused ‘I-have-a right-to-do-this-aura’, that she had in Misery. She held up a brown jiffy bag, as one would a camera, or mobile phone, while taking a photo or some footage. The envelope was about A4 size. It was bulging, full of notes, papers, and had writing all over it, in blue biro, like someone might scribble notes and memos over something. She held it up, at face level, just as if it was a camera. She took a photo of my face or footage with this thing, for about the time it takes to take a photo, about five seconds. By now of course, I was looking at her and thinking, Covert Operation Or Crazy Person.

She was calm and serious. She had that journalist mentality, and she couldn’t have been that crazy because she scampered away as if her arse was on fire when she saw my ‘What the f***’ face. So quickly in fact, that when I caught up with my husband seconds later and began searching her out, she was gone. To make matters worse, my husband had to be somewhere for an hour. Now he always pecks me on the lips and says ‘Goodbye’ whenever we have to part. Well, he didn’t this time. He just disappeared. So, there I was, really freaked out, almost in panic attack mode and saying out loud, but not too loud for anyone to hear ‘Where the f*** is he?’

It’s strange, but, while I feel I’m a bit odd at times, there is nothing quite so frightening as that unpredictability of a stranger, approaching you in that way and having absolutely no idea what they are going to do next. It makes me feel sane in comparison. I was  actually physically shaking from this encounter, for about half an hour afterwards. Who takes photos of you with a jiffy bag, without your consent, and so brazenly. I mean, who does that?

Well anyway, it was really creepy and I was disturbed and I have to off load and that’s why you are here.

Think of it this way, this is a kind of catharsis for me but think of yourself as a benevolent person who has done a charitable act. I had a weird experience and had to off load and you were there for me. Thank you. I am FREAKED OUT and you are lending a sympathetic listening ear and saying  you can never get those five minutes back, but you know, you are helping someone. Be proud. You are a good person.

I am going to surrender. I will not fight the vortex that is Blackpool Central Library any more. There are so many books I want to read there. I will not be put off. I will not shake and tremble at the strange things that happen to me there any more. I will embrace it and be armed this time and  therefore conquer it. I’m going to be ready for you next time, strange happenings. Bring it on… and watch this space.









Odd Socks & Autographs

Once again, I’d taken the socks out of the dryer and found an odd one. I told myself, this time, I wouldn’t get frustrated or annoyed. This time I would know where the odd sock had gone.

I put a micro camera in each of the socks. I would be able to track where any missing sock had gone. I played back the footage from my computer…

Red Sock was astounded. “But I don’t think I’ve got what it takes to be a star.”

“Nonsense” said Rough Wool Khaki Sock. “We’ll train you up. Besides, that bright red colour of yours, is just what we’re looking for.”

Red Sock gulped. “But…I had a partner.”

“Oh yes.” said Rough Wool Khaki Sock. “That’s true. We come in pairs, but you’re in the real world now. You’re not a pair any more.”

“But we belong together!” wailed Red Sock in a panic.

Rough Wool Khaki Sock sighed and put his ribbed cuff around Red’s shoulders. His voice became a soothing whisper. “Look, that other red sock of yours isn’t as good as you. He is faded, was left out on the window sill on a summers day. He can’t hack it. There’s nothing we can do for him now. He’ll probably end up in an old socks home. Now, do you want to be a star or not?”

“Of course I want to be a star.”

“Well then, follow me into the Academy. It’s this way.”

As Rough Wool Khaki Sock hopped away, Red Sock escaped and fled into the dryer, where he found one damp, depressed and slightly faded red sock right at the back of it. He smiled happily and snuggled close. “I’m back!” he said. “I’m so glad we’re together again!”

“So am I.” said Faded Red Sock.

Well, this was puzzling. If the two socks were together, then how come I was sitting there still looking at one red sock. I checked the back of the dryer. there was nothing there. Then I noticed there was still some footage left on the camera…

Slinky Silk Sock wrapped her instep around Faded Red Sock. “You’re just what I’m looking for to be in my new musical ‘Almost Pink’. I’m going to make you a star!”

© Sue Young