Recently I returned to the city in which I spent my childhood: Birmingham. Now, when I actually lived there I hated it but if you have been absent from a place for a decade or more something called nostalgia kicks in. Of course everything had changed. The city center has altered beyond recognition. It was grotesque before and it is even more so now. The city architects deserve high praise because I never thought such a feat was possible.
But here I shall focus on suburbia. My mother has moved to a flat nearer Worcester than the city centre. From her living room there is a magnificent view of the surrounding countryside. Here some things have remained the same. The Catholic Church is still there, along with the accompanying primary school. But the one thing has changed and it is the one thing I loved the most: the old children’s library located just around the corner from my old semi-detached childhood home.
A few years ago it was sold to the highest bidder and is now someone’s home. It is a listed building so at least its facade remains untouched. This is something to be thankful for.
Every year of my childhood the first fortnight of January saw snowfall so deep the schools were forced to close and we would be sent home. For one glorious week I would spend my days ploughing through the contents of the Old Library. In my bedroom on the upper floor of a house with no central heating I would devour book after book, on my bed, propped up against plump pillows, huddled beneath the quilt, hot water bottle clutched to my chest, sipping from a mug of hot, sweet tea. For a while I was in paradise.
I do not know if there were any protests against the closure of The Old Library. Firmly ensconced in another city, I did not find out about the building’s change in status until several years after it had occurred. As I pass by the Old Library I remember that it was once my second home. Memories come flooding into my mind: the red headed librarian called Jenny, the smell of the polished wooden floor, shafts of light streaming through the windows highlighting the dust on the book-lined shelves.
I have a strong urge to knock on the door. I wonder what kind of family live there now. I can only hope they are happy there, even though they have stolen ‘my’ library 😀