Despite the hassle of getting in to town from Dalkey I do find the National Library an excellent place to do a sustained piece of writing. The atmosphere of calm, decorum and quiet scholarship inspires you to focus and create. Also there's excellent coffee to be had downstairs and the bathrooms are comfortable and well maintained. What's there not to like? Well I'll tell you what. It's the prissy and officious staff who have me terrorised with their petty restrictions. Maybe I'm paranoid but it seems that they are poised to pounce on any deviation from their often arbitrary rules. Let me count the ways. Last year, having resumed attendance after a long gap, I committed the cardinal sin of using a biro to take notes. You must use a pencil lest you inadvertently mark one of their books, or spill ink perhaps. I can to a certain degree empathise with this restriction although I did feel that the triumphant and censorious tone of the superannuated biddy who publicly denounced me for this sin could perhaps have been toned down a tad. Fine I'd learned my lesson.
A few weeks back I was doing a piece on an artist and I got out a few related books to cull some biographical details. The book contained plenty of images so to aid my research I took out my trusty iPhone and proceeded to take some photos of them. Now as I was copying notes and quotes from the text I didn't see anything wrong with copying images also. I had my flash turned off after all. Foolish assumption. A bespectacled creature, grey of beard, and pasty of pallor suddenly appeared at my elbow and with poorly concealed relish informed me that I had committed a grievous transgression of the rules. Of course the library being such a haven of quiet industry any interruption gets maximum attention from everyone in the room. Even the plaster cherubs on the walls were staring at me accusingly - one or two laughing at my plight. This public humiliation set my cheeks aglow and could indeed have precipitated a coronary incident such was my discomfiture.
Lesson learned. I became a paragon of pencil-wielding rectitude for a spell. Today however I've done it again - in spades. In the middle of writing an artist's profile I had cause to refer to an interview I had recorded on my iPhone. I carefully turned the volume down and began to listen to the interview. I had scarcely put the phone to my ear when by beardy nemesis, yes it was him again, appeared at my side. "It's against the rules to raise a phone to your ear" I was informed in a voice that carried around the glorious and ornate reading room. Texting is fine apparently but no listening. Much discomfited I put the phone away and began to take notes from a book I'd borrowed. The next thing I know, beardy is back on my case. So discombobulated had I been by my disgrace that I had forgotten my initial transgression and began writing with biro.
I feel my time here is short. I'm bound to be on some serial offenders list at this stage and may soon be marched off by that nice man who makes me take off my coat and store my bag before I come in.