18th May

The Library

One day she decided to open her own library. She collected all the Ladybird books in the house – there were ten, ranging from Pippety’s Unlucky Day to Shopping with Mother and The Silver Arrow: A Robin Hood Adventure – because she wanted the library’s books to be the same size, and also these fitted neatly into a shoebox. She cut up sheets of paper and drew columns on them to record the loans, and stuck one sheet in the front of each book with a dab of glue. She made cardboard tickets and issued one each to her mother, father and big brother. In the real library you were allowed three tickets, but this was her library and she made the rules, and this way they would have to come back each time they wanted a different book. Using her brother’s printing set she made a date stamp with the next day’s date, because another rule was that you could only borrow a book for one day at a time. And that was the library ready to go.

Her brother didn’t seem to understand that the library was a game you had to play seriously. He objected to her having used his printing set, and to the fact that his Robin Hood book had been incorporated into her library. He tried to liberate it. She said that if he didn’t behave she would have to cancel his ticket. To her surprise he did behave, in fact he played the game quite nicely. She showed him the different books and asked which one he would like to borrow. He chose The Silver Arrow. She stamped it with the next day’s date but said he could bring it back sooner if he liked, the library would be open until four o’clock.

As soon as the book was in his hands he tore the loan sheet from it and ran away laughing. She burst into tears. It was the first time there’d been a theft from the library. Even her mother borrowing Shopping with Mother, returning it and immediately taking out Pippety’s Unlucky Day didn’t fully console her.

The library was closed the following day. It never did reopen.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Harmonium: Kit Downes
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