How thoroughly to depress a Redfellow

Malcolm almost has a book-room (the Lady-in-his-Life persists in dignifying it as a “library”). All in all, he will have just sixty-odd metres of shelving to fill. And over six dozen recycled supermarket lettuce trays and banana boxes to fill them from.

Alas! He is under strict instruction from both the cabinet-maker and the painter to desist from shelving books until the paint is thoroughly dry. Which means Monday.


For now sits Expectation in the air,
And hides a sword from hilts unto the point
With crowns imperial, crowns and coronets,
Promised to Harry and his followers.

Hank Cinq will be among the earliest texts to find a resting place. Mayhap, to the accompaniment of Ellington and Strayhorn.

Page 20 of today’s Times

There we find a puffery for James Campbell and Will Pryce, The Library: A World History. Yes, it’s one of those coffee-table books, but one with a purpose (other than extracting mega-bucks from interior decorators and their dupes).

Malcolm instantly is afflicted by a massive inferiority complex. Perhaps he should have gone up-market, for something a bit flashier than his marine-ply and egg-shell paint. Something like Stift Admont:


Whence comes this grandiose preoccupation?

Malcolm can date that precisely.

As a TCD Junior Freshman, being taken into the Long Room and signing (in archival ink) the register for the Library. The figure of authority on hand was no less than the Junior Dean, the legendary R.B.McDowell, who casually (though, despite the theatrics, the JD did little “casually”) flicked to names of previous signatories — Wilde! Synge! Childers! Beckett! For total ego-crushing effect, the next display-cabinet down the central passageway held that other prime exhibit, the Book of Kells.

Now that’s what a real library looks (and smells) like!


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Filed under Dublin., Literature, reading, Times, travel, Trinity College Dublin

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