Being in the big smoke for an expo, I had a short amount of time to kill following the concierge’s earnest advice: “Have breakfast around 7am as the dining room gets very busy”. The upside for my belly was countered by the downside in twiddling my thumbs. The sun streaming through the window invited an amble and that amble took me to the library; a modern red brick housing some of Britain’s finest literary treasures.
I arrive. Other people arrive. Bikes. Pedestrians. The ubiquitous Bromptons, wheeled across the flagstaffs. After the tube sign, black cabs and Routemasters, I’m convinced this little folder is set to join these London icons in the popular imagination.
I sat at a table and relaxed (a quite 30 mins being a rare thing of beauty). In the forecourt cafe, a Portuguese barista was teaching an English builder some phrases while her Spanish colleague teased both. A lady passed the window and waved enthusiastically as she sped to the staff entrance. I received my flat white with a very unflat smile; a friendlier reception I cannot envisage.
A huge queue* snaked into the piazza as people waited for the doors to open. The sound of multiple nationalities echoed softly. In this sunshine, the orderly, friendly queue reprsented humanity at its best – all of them eager to access a repository of books that span hundreds of years. Contemplating my coffee and the scene, I came to realise that both internationalism and the printed word, are most definitely not dead.
*and when I say ‘huge’I mean ‘HUGE’. The doors took 15 minutes to swallow it up.
Brompton image; previously taken at Paddington. Below; the pad next door.