Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Small Country

I wrote not long ago about the library selling many of its books at shockingly low prices.  It has since been revealed that the current Central Library, built in 1975, is no longer fit for purpose.  The lift (elevator) doesn't work and cannot be repaired and the heating system is unrealiable.  The building is almost entirely glass and will have cost a fortune to heat in any case. 

Lismore Castle

So, they were shrinking the inventory of books to be moved down to about 24,000 of which only about 8K will be on display.  I may be fairly grumpy over the coming months about this limited selection.  On the other hand, the library is moving back into the building I showed you here, labelled 'Free Library' and built in (ahem) 1857.  What does this say about modern construction?

The council have yet to decide how the current library site will be re-developed and, given their record for other similar decisions in North Tyneside, I expect we'll be using the 19th Century building for a good while. 

However, the library is not the topic for this post, rather that I've just started reading one of the books I bought there:  Love from Nancy:  the Letters of Nancy Mitford; (I paid 50 pence for it).  I'm finding it much more readable than the letters between her and Evelyn Waugh, which I bought from Amazon.  In both books, mind, the most interesting text is in the many footnotes which explain who was whom and what was what.  It's sort of like reading a book and working a jigsaw puzzle at the same time:  after a while the mosaic begins to form a recognizable picture and names in footnotes are greeted like familiar friends. 

Remember me mentioning the Loraine's of Kirkharle hamlet?  Well, Nancy was apparently buddies with the Loraine's.  They come up quite a bit as one of her other dear friends, Mark Ogilvie-Grant worked for Sir Percy when he was High Commissioner for Egypt, as an Honourary Attache.  The footnotes are amazing sources of biographical detail, listing dates of marriage, divorce, etc. amongst the aristocratic and literary friends of Nancy's circle.  Read here for a review with many of her lovely witticisms included. 

In reading on the internet about books by Charlotte Mosley (daughter-in-law of Diana Mitford Guiness Mosley) I tumbled onto a reminder that after the youngest of the Mitford sisters, Deborah, married the 11th Duke of Devonshire she inhabited not only the family seat at Chatsworth, but that the Cavendish family also owned Lismore Castle in Ireland.  I've written about this previously, in talking about Fred Astaire, whose sister Adele occupied Lismore Castle upon her marriage into the Cavendish family. 

I keep being surprised by these little circles of coincidence but Bill would remind me, I'm sure, that 'They' are all related in one way or another' and that with the finite number of castles, palaces and the like (large as that number is), there are bound to be duplicate owners...sort of like finding friends with the same birthdate.

What has all of this got to do with me, you might ask? Absolutely nothing.  I just find it all fascinating.  Reading about the Mitfords et al is what I do instead of housework watching TV just about anything else.  It's just about my definition of retirement, OK?

1 comment:

Suburban Princess said...

Timely library post...our town library is closing for the entire Christmas season...I think we maybe have one more week...10 days maybe and it opens again in January. A big pain!