Dabbling In Paradise

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It’s been an unaccountably quiet week here at Hooting Yard, I’m afraid, but Friday would not be Friday without something in my cupboard at The Dabbler. And lo! This week I sing the praises of the London Library – or, to be precise, I was going to, until I discovered someone else’s recent blog postage that said almost exactly what I would have said by way of introduction to this heaven on earth. So, instead, I link to that postage, and praise instead a forgotten writer whose work I have found on the book-crammed shelves of the library.

There is another brief but useful introduction to the London Library in this In Praise Of… piece from The Guardian last year. It’s worth noting, I think, that seven of the twelve commenters there moan about the cost of membership. I get the impression that such people would complain whatever the cost, simply because it is a private institution open only to paying members. I’m surprised the word “elitist” appears nowhere in the comments.

But sense and perspective are provided by one ‘cunningfox’, who writes “£1.08 a day. Best bargain in London. What else are you going to spend it on that’s half so worthwhile?” Indeed so. I am quite alarmingly poverty-stricken, but even I can find a daily quid to stump up for access to fifteen miles of shelves groaning with books. It is all a question of choice. I recall, a few years ago, attending a gig by the great John Bently, where he had some of his Liver & Lights artist’s books for sale. I overheard some ragamuffin whingeing that they were too expensive, as he slurped his (expensive) pint and headed off to the bar to buy another round. He probably spent more on beer that evening than a couple of Bently’s books would have cost him.

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