Monday, 1 June 2009


From Project 355

The other night some friends got around to discussing early memories. One of my earliest memories is undoubtedly being taken into Childwall Library in Liverpool. It was a long walk from home for a three year old - about two miles, there and back. But well worth it.

The library was in a little shop and at that time pre-school children were not allowed to borrow books. Adults could borrow books on their behalf but since each adult was restricted to three books it meant a sacrifice on Mum's part if I had one on her ticket. Breaking the rules, Miss Skelland, the librarian, let Mum have two tickets for me. What a wonderful treat that was. I remember one of the first books I borrowed was about a family of wee animals called he Smalltails (probably mice or rats but for some reason weevils come to mind). Then there were stories about Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit. And so much more. I loved reading those books and partly as a result of Miss Skelland's kindness I was able to jump a class when I started school because I could already read whilst most of the children were still struggling with their alphabets.

My love affair with books has never ceased for a moment and one of the books which has remained high on my all time list of favourites since I was a child is "1066 and All That" which inspired the title of this blog. My brother and I still refer to some things as "A Good Thing, capital GT'.

After a brief spell of working in a hospital I worked in libraries - beginning, by coincidence, in that little shop in Childwall which was soon replaced by a big purpose built branch. I went to college to study librarianship and during one of my summer vacations worked at a different branch under Miss Skelland who was still going strong (and still breaking rules and - I was now to discover - swearing like a trooper when there were no readers around! A wonderful woman.)

I came back from college to rise to the dizzy heights of a branch librarian before going on to a career in local government Housing then Chief Exec's. Like most librarians I entered the profession because 'I like books and I like people'. It was funny when I - as a third year student - was involved with the Head of the Department in interviewing prospective new students that almost every youngster interviewed gave the same reason. (After a few years of dealing with some of life's more cantankerous public this often gets amended to 'I like books'.)

Nowadays I have the leisure to enjoy my reading even more. As Good Things go, books are very high on my list.