|Nice noir-ish cover art too!|
It was at the library that I really hit the jackpot, however. But before that... I'd gone in to return some books and pick up a reserved copy of R. J. Mitchell: Schooldays to Spitfire, a biography of the great aircraft designer written by his son Gordon Mitchell. (After yet another viewing of The First of the Few starring Leslie Howard I felt moved to read more about the man, and at a cursory glance I can tell I shan't be disappointed with this book!). It was at this point however that I encountered what I consider to be one of the banes of modern living. The automated service.
|Is this too much to ask?|
Librarian: "Can I show you how to use our automated check-in system?"
I remembered my previous responses to this question, drew myself up and said as politely but as firmly as possible:
Me: "I'd really rather you didn't, if it's all the same to you."
I have to admit that after that the atmosphere dropped by several degrees but really! what is it with this blasted self-service culture? What annoys me even more is the fast-increasing view that by having these machines installed the library/supermarket/hospital is somehow doing us all a favour and that we should all be queueing up in excitement and appreciation, eager to use them and wondering how we ever got by just talking to another person. Well they aren't and I'm not. Honestly, they'll be expecting us to stack the shelves next. Machines were envisioned to help (and maybe even replace) us in unpleasant and difficult tasks but instead they have been hijacked by penny-pinching corporations and used in unnecessary situations, forcing people into using them and putting customer relations (not to mention jobs) in jeopardy. How soon before there is a whole generation who will never have experienced person-to-person interactions outside of their own home?
Anyway, rant over (and apologies, but this is something I feel very strongly about - I know that my readership includes one or two librarians so perhaps we shall also hear a contrasting view); let me show you all the books I got! The same two tables and one shelf unit from my previous visit were still there but they had been replenished and joined by two boxes full of some really quite good (and in good condition) titles. I ended up with an armful of five books. Five! For £2.20! None older than ten years (and some again hardly withdrawn). They are: Mr Bojangles: The Biography of Bill Robinson, A Land Girl's War by Joan Snelling (I must admit in my head I had Charly 'LandGirl's' voice - not that I've ever even heard it! - shouting "buy that!"), Elizabeth The Queen Mother by Hugo Vickers, Empire of Sand (a fictional story but using the character of T. E. Lawrence ["of Arabia"] and set in the Middle Eastern theatre of the First World War) and the biographical Joan Crawford: Not the Girl Next Door.
I'm really going to have to limit my book intake for the next few months now, I think. Certainly I've got enough to keep me busy for a long time. At the rate things are going my local library will soon be out of books and I'll have to open up my own library. And I can assure you there wouldn't be a self-service machine in sight.