Sometimes life is waiting to teach you a lesson, the man selling fire extinguishers door to door might be attuned to the emotional meltdown in your living room, waged over jaffa cakes and dead flowers, or it might just be a coincidence but human beings are superstitious animals. We take the signs ( the threads of meaninglessness) and stitch them into a meaningful reality until we cannot and then we become ill or get a job in a library. And the library too is warning you about the future you can expect if you don’t read the signs.
That woman over there in the furry slippers, carrying bags of correspondence concerning the statutory obligations of local MPs, ‘there is a minimum time that MPs are obliged by law to listen to you… I would like to know what that time is because my MP, Sir Nigel Tufnell Parks, often refuses to see me or if he does the surgery lasts under a minute…’ She has been visiting the library for over thirty years. Every Sunday, every afternoon, she is filling in pages that no one will read, this shadow activity (shadowy because it operates in a parallel sphere to reality) has robbed her bones of limestone and diluted her blood. Before you laugh consider the librarian who claims he was abducted by aliens and when they turned their gamma ray on him he was granted special insight into the holes in human reality, only he knows the truth about what really happened during 9-11, the conspiracy under foot to milk human mothers while they sleep and ship the supplies via a fleet of interstellar milk floats to dairy-crazed aliens.
Most lunatics in the library have a logical idea that has been stretched to its elastic limits without snapping. One man, a well-dressed Herbert Lom lookalike, wonders why the borough of Kensington and Chelsea has two town halls. If you live in the King’s Road you have to travel to Kensington for any council related business. ‘Why,’ he asked me, ‘ don’t we have a cable car connecting the two rooftops.. a simple cable car journey over South Kensington and Kensington gardens to pay my council tax…’
Today another well-spoken young woman came in. She sat down but first pulled the chair at the help desk seven feet away from me. Two things. Firstly problems with emails and fines, books she’d tried to renew and then she explained: ‘ I am being pursued by a smelly sexual predator…’
I looked across at a few Romanians arguing over the contents of a huge canvas bag in the newspaper section and back into her eyes. ‘Yes, he’s a total paedo. I sense him all the time. When I access my email he’s right behind me memorizing my passwords… I’ve even been to the police.’
‘What does he look like?’
‘I’ve never seen him. I want you to look over my shoulder and tell me if you can see him.’
I watched the new manager in a woman’s jacket two sizes too small for him and Calvin Klein underpants hanging over the top of his Bermuda shorts, a disco gangster if ever I saw one, moving round in a circle and tapping his head.
‘There isn’t anyone there…’
She stiffened, the mad are hyper-sensitive to their ideas being dismissed. They demand an almost impossible degree of seriousness while they talk total bollocks. ‘The police suggested it might be para…’
‘NO! PARANORMAL. But I was brought up a Christian so what would I have to do with the paranormal?’
I wanted to tell that her that the bible is full of ghosts, what else is the resurrected Jesus with a wound in his side like a huge extra sensitive ear? There are devils and demons — Belial, Beelzebub — possession of both men and pigs (the Gadarene swine) but instead I was sucked into those eyes. They pulled at the building’s fabric and the post-it notes flapping on the monitor. If I kept this going a bit longer it would take me up to my tea break.