I have been working in the British Library. I moved from my local library because they were using the ground floor of the library for Tai Chi classes, which were being led by an extremely loud and posh woman, who kept asking everyone in the class if they were all right. I briefly considered joining the class, just so I could tell her that ‘no, actually, I wasn’t all right at all, and that this was a library, not some sort of discotheque,’ but the Tai Chi part looked a little complicated, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I had, previous to the library, worked very happily at my dining room table, but the whole of our living room is treacherous in the winter, being either extremely cold (no heating) or terribly hot (yes heating), and in both states my focus tended to be much more corporeal than cerebral. ‘There is nothing so insistent as the body,’ I thought to myself, as I put my extremely warm head onto my dining room table for a little nap. It is impossible to overestimate how many intelligent thoughts I have just before I fall asleep. I did, briefly, write them all down, but it turned out that was just part of a dream.
Anyway, my flat’s out, and so is the local library (although it may possibly be getting a second chance, as an exercise centre/ way to meet my local community), so I’ve popped along to the British Library. I have only good things to say about it here. The building is beautiful, and easily accessible, and there are ping pong tables in the piazza outside, which as Google and Facebook have taught us, are imperative to all money-making endeavors, and it is filled with studious, non-communicative, non-tai chi doing visitors.
Silence is strictly enforced. Talking is absolutely verboten. Coughing, however, is not. Here, in ascending order, are the most irritating coughs other people can muster:
The lung hacker
(Get yourself to a doctor, I’m too young to die)
The cough and sniff
(Sniffers ought to be banned from all public places)
The Repeat offender
(Just leave the room and have a drink of water, OK?)
The just spit it out cougher
(A refusal to cough properly, once, results instead in a continued barrage of ineffectual, fake-modest mealy-mouthed coughlets.)