Well, last weekend was our last Bank Holiday weekend until August. That is such a shame. I love the luxury of Bank Holiday weekends. Just having that extra day tagged on to the weekend seems to make all the difference. Did I make good use of that extra day? No! The weekend mainly consisted of housework, gardening, cooking and I managed to fit in some reading. My daughter unexpectedly came round for dinner on the Sunday and stayed the night, which was lovely. The high point actually came on Saturday afternoon when I went to a book sale at The Leeds Library and then went on a tour of the Library.
The Leeds Library is fascinating. It is the oldest proprietary subscription library in Britain. Founded in 1768, it counts Joseph Priestley (the chap who discovered oxygen) as one of its former members. The Library now occupies a first floor property above shops in a busy street in the centre of the City. What I did not know before going on the tour was that the Library owns the shops beneath it. The rent from the buildings provides the library with an income that has helped it to survive where other similar libraries have been forced to close. The Library adopts a policy of members being able to look at and touch every single book in the library, however old and however rare. Just the thought of it sends a tingle down my spine! When you go around the library, it is like stepping back in time. I could just imagine sitting in one of the comfortable chairs for hours occasionally plucking a book off the shelves to browse through. They even have a card index system; something I had not seen in a library for a few years, although we were assured there was an on-line catalogue! Nevertheless, however lovely, it is a subscription library and although the membership fee includes all reservations, loans, participation at book clubs, talks, and a film club, the cost is £120 per adult. Unlike the public libraries in Leeds, this library is only open 9.00 – 17.00 Monday to Friday and from 9.00 – 13.00 on Saturdays. As someone who works full time, those opening hours are too restricted for me to get value out of the subscription fee. Perhaps when I reach retirement it may seem a more attractive option…
Fortunately, we are lucky in Leeds to have a high quality, thriving public library service that provides a truly excellent service. A free library service is a wonderful thing and we should all do everything we can to support it.
Last night we heard of the passing of Nelson Mandela. It was no great surprise because he had been ill for so long but nevertheless it was sad news.
We all know his history and background so I don’t intend to make any comment on his life or his achievements.
I do, however, have two personal memories involving Nelson Mandela.
I remember so very clearly the day he was released from Victor Verster prison. 11 February 1990. I was in hospital awaiting the birth of my daughter and watched coverage of his release on television. It was a day to remember. My daughter was born the next morning. Another day to remember!
I consider myself very fortunate enough to have seen Nelson Mandela when he came to Leeds in April 2001 to be made freeman of the City and to officially open Millennium Square. It was such a significant event that the Manager of the charity I worked for at the time closed the office so we could witness this historical occasion. There were thousands and thousands of us waiting in Millennium Square for him to arrive. There was slight confusion about when he was actually going to arrive and we seemed to be waiting for ages. Jon Snow did a brilliant job trying to keep the crowd both informed and amused. We were entertained by children from a local school and the wonderful Ladysmith Black Mamboza. Then suddenly he appeared on stage. The great man himself with a beaming smile. There was wild applause and a rising sense of excitement and expectation. On his arrival, the choir sang Nikosi Sikelel, the South African national anthem. It was very moving and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. We didn’t even mind when he referred to Liverpool even though he was in Leeds! Although in his 80s, he looked well if a little frail.
I am so glad that I was able to be there on that day and to witness that beaming smile!
RIP Nelson Mandela
Seriously, what is happening with the weather this year? It has gone crazy!!! The Bank Holiday weekend was lovely but now we are reduced to rain and chilly temperatures. The garden doesn’t know what to do with itself. Bluebells are fighting for prime position in the garden but the peonies are mounting a fight back. I have pansies that are in the prime of life when I had thought they would be flagging. No salad crops have yet been planted and I have tomato seedlings just begging to be potted. However, I suppose this is what we come to expect in England. And I wouldn’t change it for the world!