On sleeping in libraries

I went back to the British Library yesterday which keeps all the knowledge in the world under its floorboards. My membership petered out about three years ago, along with with my first sally into PhD work. But now I’m back, and confidently straddling both horses again.

Everyone was very nice and helpful, and they even gave me my old reader number back. So I trotted along to the Reading Room, and set down my pencils at the desk I’d always sat at. I called up a few books from the stack – nothing too fibrous and scholarly, just a little something to try and oil the creaking academic wheels: intellectual WD40.

And then I sank into a profound and comforting slumber.

Let’s leave me there for a while, snoring away like a circular saw through granite.

Last week I heard the filmmaker Sarah Turner give what was a pretty agonising Q&A session after a showing of her post-Soviet public transport flick, Perestroika.

“Trains and cinemas,” she said, “are the two public spaces that people feel comfortable sleeping in.”

She was right upto a point: a man a few rows in front and to my right had been asleep and twitching as if he was having an pretty exciting dream.

But really anywhere that people happen to be are public spaces that people feel comfortable sleeping in. Whitness park benches, green spaces, cafes, pubs, especially pubs, waiting rooms, telephone boxes (I genuinely know someone – I could introduce you to someone – that did)…

…and libraries.

So there I was, slumped over the desk like a body in a library. In fact there’s no “like” about it. I was drooling and snuffling, like a hedgehog that’s taken up pipe smoking. And the library police, who tick people off when their laptops make that harmonic BOING start-up noise are remarkably laissez faire about snorting narcolepts chewing on the furniture. Zero tolerance on BOINGing, but anything goes when it comes to exercising the old respiratory pipes.

It was like the old kinship had returned instantly. “Consider yourself at home. Consider yourself part of the furniture,” the attenadant seemed to be saying as he passed me on his rounds, smiling, I like to think, and perhaps brushing my cheek fondly with the back of his hand.

~ by David Thorley on September 29, 2010.

One Response to “On sleeping in libraries”

  1. […] I’ve even started to build up the proportion of that time that I spend conscious, since these baby-stepping beginnings. And less time shooting the shit with the Gummie Bears in the Land of Nod, means more time at the […]

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