Thursday 30 April 2015

Day 30: Islington


Islington Central Library
6.30 pm
4.3 km from Covent Garden

I completely forgot to take a picture of the front so here is an image of the cake I was given instead.

This was a triumph.

I apologise for the fact that that as the month has worn on my blogs have become somewhat, shall we say, abbreviated. I'd also like to say that the many librarians, library assistants, DACSOs(1), archivists and people that wandered into the library and never left I met were all wonderfully welcoming and generous.

The whole thing started at Islington Central when I foolishly mooted the idea that I should visit every borough and it was fitting that this was the last audience...

 That's actually Sophie Calder on the far left of the front row - she's a publicist for Orion Books and mostly to blame for all this.

(1) Direct Access Customer Service Officers

NEXT: um.... sleep, lots and lots of sleep!

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Day 29: Wanstead


Wanstead Library
7.00 pm
12.6 km from Covent Garden

Windows? We don't need no stinking windows!
Redbridge came as a bit of a surprise because with a name like that I expected it to be up North - as in Yorkshire or Lancashire - and to have played a vital role in the industrial revolution and/or trade union history.

There was a huge coffee and walnut cake available and despite my best efforts to give it away I ended up eating half of it. V.Bad.

What it is, it turns out, is a leafy suburb or at least the bits I saw were. Once more the spiritual successors to Albert Speer had been let loose on a library as evinced by the Leni Riefenstahl windows you can see below.

NEXT: The last library in London!

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Day 28: Bopping in Bexley and Barking in Bromley


Bexleyheath Central Library
3.15 pm
19.6 km from Covent Garden

Bexleyheath Library was built during the closing stages of the Cold War and is now designated a Human Rallying Point and Shelter in the event of the Zombie Apocalypse.

Here me and the audience could shelter while the dead walk the earth and the rush hour traffic clogged up the roads.


Bromley Central Library
7.15 pm
15.4 km from Covent Garden

So far we've had libraries with gardens, cafes and even a sauna but Bromley Central is attached to a full sized repertory theatre. Currently showing The History Boys by Allen Bennett.

It's also nine stories high, giving in unparallelled views over South London, with its own secondary auditorium which, amazingly, was full of people when I arrived.

Here I was told by a guy in the audience that while teaching Policing and Crime at college he used my books as a lazy way to introduce his students to police culture.

I was tempted to ask whether I could get a fee for that but managed to restrain myself.

NEXT: Wanstead in Redbridge, Yorkshire North East London!

Monday 27 April 2015

Day 27: Cruising in Croydon and Laughing in Lewisham


Ashburton Library
11.00 pm
14.9 km from Covent Garden

Ashburton was not only the shiniest library so far but the only one that was attached at the hip to a school. I was assured that this only caused problems at home time and only briefly because the inmates pupils were all keen to escape.

According to my notes the erotic store Anne Summers was founded in Croydon - thanks to whoever told me that. I think I know what the Croydon short story is going to be about now.


Manor House Library
7.00 pm
10.71 km from Covent Garden

Manor House Library has adopted a more 'proactive' anti-cuts policy.
'Oh,' said my taxi driver, 'you're going to Lee.' Pronouncing to rhyme with slum but even he was impressed when we turned into an elegant horseshoe drive and were confronted by the 18th Century Manor House that was converted into a library at the turn of the 19th Century. The clue, of course, is in the name.

There's also a park behind the library, presumably part of the house's old grounds. I spent a pleasant three hours or so wandering around and having bacon sandwiches in its cafe. Then on to the audience...

On the way home I noticed that Lewisham town centre was one huge road work - because you can never have enough roundabouts.

NEXT: the wilds of Bexleyheath and the triumph of elegance that is Bromley town centre.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Day 25: Swinging in Swiss Cottage


Swiss Cottage Library
4.00 pm
4.87 km from Covent Garden

A library cunningly built in the form of a gigantic heat sink.

I took advantage of the comparitively light scehdule to go see Avengers: Age of Ultron with the Evil Monster Boy(TM) which is why he can be seen lurking at the back of the audience below.

Tomorrow I get the day of and then...


Friday 24 April 2015

Day 24: Racing to Roxeth and Chipper in Barnet


Roxeth Library
11.15 pm
17.1 km from Covent Garden

You don't have to close the library tonight
Read those books for money
You don't care if it's wrong or if it's right

Despite being small and the library equivalent of a flat roofed pub the librarians and staff had gone all out with police tape and costume elements (and cake) to get the audience in the mood. While the big libraries are always impressive hives of activity it's good to be reminded how important the small local libraries are - standing like beacons of literacy in a howling wasteland of philistinism(1).


Chipping Barnet Library
6.30 pm
17.0 km from Covent Garden

My taxi driver seemed worrying confused about where we going.
"I didn't know it was called Chipping Barnet,' he said. "When did they change the name then?"

The cadets were out in force here too but I managed to snap them when they weren't expecting it.

Another big audience and another impressive Library space. I never knew so many libraries had ancillary spaces like this.

(1) I really need to get some sleep.

NEXT: arghhhhburblebublephlimphlamphooecciecci-phetang!


Dominique Duong gave me the original version of this picture of Lady Ty. You can see a copy of it at Deviant Art

It's now waiting a) framing b) me buying a bigger home so I have some wall space.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Day 23: Easy in Ealing, Heaving in Hillingden


Ealing Central Library
2.30 pm
12.4 km from Covent Garden in a shopping centre which meant I had to pick my way through multiple car parks after foolishly allowing myself to be dropped off at the back. There I was welcomed by David Cornish and Sue Harland who I utterly forgot to take pictures of. I did remember to image the audience...

The audience were very patient as workers next door started demolishing the library around us - at least that's what it sounded like.


The Great Barn
7.30 pm
22.4 km from Covent Garden

So great that I couldn't get the whole thing into frame The Great Barn, note the capital 'The', was built in the 13th Century of English Oak and is unlikely to fall down anytime soon. The actual library is equally ye olde England...

Hillingden Libraries had pulled out all the stops enlisting the aid of the Police Cadets...

Note the vintage Rover Area Car.
A full bar and catering service and a singer to keep the punters happy while they stocked up and sat down.

I wrote down his name but I can't read my handwriting...
First I was grilled by Helen and Shivaki who'd one a competition for the honour of doing so. Personally I'd have held out for the cuddly toy. Then they read extracts from my book which were then illustrated by Professor Dumpling in the traditional punch fashion.

Then I faced my biggest audience yet ranked along the immense length of the barn.

Obviously it's not supposed to be taken literally, it refers to all manufacturers of dairy products.

By the way the alternative caption for that picture was 'Your time has come! A storm is coming, our storm and when it arrives it will shake the universe.' But I decided that was too geeky - even by my standards.

NEXT: next? Oh god I can't remember where I am....

The Comic Is Coming in July


1. Absolutely guarenteed non-slippery date so you can stop being so sarcastic...

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Day 22: Happy in Hammersmith, Charmed in Charing Cross


Hammersmith Library
2.00 pm
7.2 km from Covent Garden

Back once more to the shining beacon of urban living that is West London. This time I had to lug a lava lamp(1) with me in the taxi so I could deposit it with Andrew Cartmel. He's the guy looking all relaxed and cheerful in the front row below. It was a birthday present for his birthday which explains why he's looking so cheerful.

Another unexpectedly lively lunchtime audience which was actually larger then this picture suggests.


Charing Cross Library
6.00 pm
0.4 km from Covent Garden

Charing Cross Library, which serves London's Chinatown, has 50,000 Chinese language books and 4 Chinese speaking staff. It is deceptively small on the outside but turns out to be very grand on the inside.

This had the biggest audience I've had so far in central London.

This was a fun audience asked me lots of difficult questions without hesitation. However since I'd broken my glasses I had no idea what they looked like until I put this picture up - what a handsome bunch they are too.

NEXT: Ealing (unless it has seceded) and the far distant western edge of Civilisation a.k.a. Hillingdon.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Day 21: Chuffed in Chiswick


Chiswick Library
6.00 pm
9.8 km from Covent Garden

It was a glorious sunny day in Chiswick and members of staff read out extracts from Rivers of London - one of which moved me to (manly) tears.

Despite the lack of free alcohol and the fact that my brain is beginning to disintegrate - I think the audience had a good time.

NEXT: Hammered in Hammersmith and Cheeked in Charing Cross!