Thursday, 26 July 2007

Reference room of joy

I took my umbrella for a summer’s walk to the library yesterday afternoon, hoping that I would find the reference room open. This is an old library in a nice building, and there is something about the people that live in the reference room that intrigues me. It is like time has stood still in there, so to discover that the same man works there as when I was last in the reference room (1999) didn’t surprise me a jot.

The usual suspects were draped across tables in the silence – old men (one of which wanting the phone directory for Ipswich), a couple of students with weighty tomes in front of them and mixed range of folk on the out of place computers to the side of the room. An elderly gent asks the lady at the counter why his hotmail isn’t working. She looks flustered, as if answering I.T questions was not the reason she applied all those years ago to work in a library.

A strange metamorphosis comes over me when I am in a reference library.

I suddenly feel all worthy.

I drag down the Writers Yearbook 2007 from on high and scan it knowingly, flipping to the magazine listing section. A few new ones catch my eye, mainly as they offer to pay for articles, should you be so lucky. I scribble down the editor details and look for an email, even though I know full well I should just pick up the phone and call them.

Why are people (okay, why am I) so scared of speaking on the phone? It is not like they know me, so what is my problem with this? Relying just on email is not the done thing, and I just know it. Sigh… You would never think I once interviewed Will Smith, would you? I jot down phone numbers of everywhere in grim determination. I guess I think that I will somehow commit an appalling etiquette faux pas. What a thing to be scared of!

I then hit on the jack pot. I ask the lady behind the counter for a directory that lists London magazines and she looks relieved to be asked a question about books. She takes me unerringly straight to Benn’s Media – which lists them all. Oh praise be libraries, I think. So now I have...

Angel – North -- Belgravia – The Resident –The Westender – Southwest –Upside – Northwest

…to think about. The only concern is Angel and North’s editor is one and the same, same as Northwest and Upside. Which have the same www as Southwest, and six of these publications have the same phone number, so do I pitch my idea to one at a time or all six? And perhaps their content is syndicated, rather than original? It looks like only Belgravia and The Westender are independent, or at least have a different phone number. Okay… my mission today is to call them all and see if I can pitch an idea. Gulp.

Oh, and we passed the landlord inspection with flying colours, I have to say.

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