Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Not enough Audrey's in the world.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had rediscovered books. More precisely reading of books.

You see, books are a thing in our family. My mom's side of the family are all book worms. Holidays in Port Alfred with my grandparent's mostly revolved around swapping books, lying around reading books, standing in the hall with Granny looking at the books and checking if there was anything new, or missioning down to the local library (where my dear Granny Audrey was a librarian for I don't know how many years). The library in Port Alfred was always much better than the one I visited in Port Elizabeth.

For various reasons. One, the librarians in Port Elizabeth were scary. They were all in their mid 30's or 40's, stern, and always glared over their glasses. ( I suspected all of them to be lonely spinsters). As a 8 year old I was not impressed. I had to be quiet. Walking around on tip toes and whispering. Carefully looking at the shelves and never quite sure if I could actually take a book home. I dare not ask. That would mean having to go to the counter and talking to one of the spinsters.

Port Alfred library on the other hand - well, my Granny was there and all the other Audrey's. I think they were a total of 3 Audrey's that worked there. All with grey curly hair, round tummies and lots to laugh about. Whenever my mom and I walked in, there would be laughter in the air. Maybe it's because we always visited the library during December holidays, so obviously a more festive mood hung around. But still. The Audrey's at Port Alfred Municipal Library always chuckled, asked the book lenders about their families or latest baking feat and above all, loved books. They were eager to make sure that you took the right book home. They would ask if you needed help, "Have you read the latest Dick Francis? Here you go, we just got it in!".

I visited a municipal library in Cape Town today. There was a chubby coloured lady behind the counter, and although never having met me, still smiled and helped all she could. I saw how she chatted to the regulars, asking about the holidays and really enjoying her day.

Sadly my Granny Audrey passed away this last July, but her love of books lives on in all of her family. I can not walk past an Exclusive Books store without remembering how she would dart in and devour everything, stocking up for the library back in Port Alfred. We would hang around for at least an hour before she came out, piles of books in hand!

I think the lady I saw today must have been an Audrey.

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