A moment of excitement and drama descended upon us this week when we were suddenly called upon for help. The telephone rang. It was a call from the Save Our Libraries campaign.

“We shall be outside Prettygate Library at 1pm today and we wondered if you and Reggie could come along and celebrate the library with us by reading a poem.”

A 60-year-old man with a beard down to his knees and a 13-year-old child is hardly the cavalry is it? But we still felt a sort of Tally Ho spirit as we rounded the corner at speed on our bicycles to join the little throng assembled at Prettygate Library, armed with a verse and a little camera.

Prettygate is a branch library. Now I have to tell you. I love all libraries. But I am a particular sucker for branch libraries.

It might be something about branches in general. Trees for instance. Love them. I used to love the branch line on the railways. The slow train would stop at all the stations on the branch line. Now long gone.

The stations had beautifully evocative names. Tumby Woodside, Chester-le-Street, Trouble House Halt, Buttermere.

I remember the old trains, the doors banging as they were slammed along the platform, the stationmaster shouting for us to “Stand well clear of the doors”.

In sleepy English towns there were porters, white washed pebbles, cats asleep on benches, waiting rooms with tea shops and homemade cakes. A coal fire in the winter. Not a vending machine in sight.

Back in Prettygate I read a poem by Nikki Giovanni that similarly evoked early memories of her visiting the magical branch library in her home town as a child.

She talks of heavy wooden tables on a creaky wood floor. Newspapers draped over what looked like a quilt rack. Lines of green shades bankers lights over the tables. The poem finishes with:

The anticipation in my heart

All those books - another world - just waiting

At my fingertips.

It’s such a powerful and simple image of a young child in a library. Far be it for me to criticise a poet of Giovanni’s stature. But I would just like to add just one extra little bit.

It’s the distinctive sound of the date stamp as the librarian stamps the books in the front cover that echoes around the hushed walls. The walls heaving with books.

That’s such a beautiful and distinctive sound. Let it not become history say I.

The little party we joined are walking from branch library to branch library this week. They duly set off for Stanway Library - now don’t get me started on tiny little Stanway Library, even by branch library standards it’s an absolute little peach of a library.

And if you ever go in there when they are doing rhyme time - which is when mothers bring their two-year-olds and sit in a little circle listening to nursery rhymes read by the librarian - and not think this is not a thing of beauty and worth saving then your soul is hardier than mine my friend.

And we set off for lunch at Taco Bell on Head Street. Reggie’s new fave eatery. We have to Eat Out to Help Out he told me. I couldn’t argue.

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