Culture

A Bit Of An Odd Thing

By Bernie Bell

I was born and grew up in Bradford, Yorkshire.  As a child I would go into town with my Mum once a week to do the Big Shop.  Mum would also take me to the library.  At that time, Bradford City Library was part of the old Kirkgate Market – a Victorian building which has since been demolished to make way for yet another shopping mall. 

My main memory is of the children’s section in the library – all wooden shelves and a great smell of books and polished wood.

When the Kirkgate Market was knocked down the Library went too, and a big new one was built – providing a place for new memories to form……..

Doing my ‘A’ Levels ( remember ‘A’ Levels?) and having study days when we didn’t have to go into school. Going into town to the Library and – believe it or not – actually studying!  Also seeing friends and acquaintances in the Library Café.  John Thornton, whose initials were JRT – as we were all obsessed with The Lord of The Rings, he was known as JRRT.  He liked to dash into one of the reading rooms, rub his feet on the new nylon carpets, then run round touching people on their foreheads – giving them mild  electric shocks!  It relieved the tedium – he’d probably be done for some kind of harassment these days.

We’d go for tea breaks in the café, and meet and talk – Norman told of how his Mum’s garden gnomes were being stolen. At the time, he was working in a concrete factory – so he made some big, square bases for the remaining gnomes – and the buggers didn’t steal them anymore.

For lunch, up Great Horton Road to the chippy for a fish cake in a bap – a proper fish cake  – layers of fish and potato in batter, not weird squashed stuff in breadcrumbs.

And now I’ll get to the point……

We wanted a specific volume of Ted Hughes’ poetry – ‘Flowers and Insects’. Mike asked Sheena in Tams Bookshop (aka Stromness Books & Prints https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/06/21/stromness-book-shop-scotlands-only-drive-in-book-shop/).  She didn’t have one in stock, but, being the helpful person that she is, she offered to order one for us.

When Mike went to collect the book, Sheena was apologetic. It’s out of print, and she could only get us a second hand one. That’s fine by us, it’s a lovely edition……..

Then, I opened it – it came from Bradford City Library – the memories came flooding back. Early 1970’s, long floral skirts, high suede boots – the Library – electric shocks from JRRT – GOOD TIMES!

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