Thursday, 10 December 2009

Days Nine and Ten of #100days: Bless is Goodbye in Icelandic

[9 and 10/100]

Talar þú íslensku? (Do you speak Icelandic?)
Ja, ég tala íslensku. (Yes, I speak Icelandic.)

This is a lie. I should be learning, "Nei, eg tala ekki íslensku." (No, I can't speak Icelandic) but that would be defeatist. It's only day ten.

It's just been me and the novel for the last couple of days. Too boring really to blog about. I just want it done now, so I can have my life back.

One of my favourite borrowers died recently. It always upsets me when a husband or a wife or sibling comes in with a library ticket and says they won't be needing it anymore. And there are some borrowers I haven't seen in a while, and I wonder if they're okay, and steel myself for the worst. But this particular borrower has been coming into the library every week for all the time I've been working there. He would only read Jack Higgins books, and over the last few years all he's been able to manage were large print copies. Over the years I consulted "Who Writes Like..." a few times, trying to find him someone new to read. And he tried a few, but no one could match good old Jack Higgins. I got excited once when he asked for a book by Harry Patterson, only to find out it was Jack Higgins' pseudonym. I would print him off lists of all the Jack Higgins books we had in stock, and he would order a few at a time, checking them off. Once he'd got through his list, (and luckily for him it was a fairly long list) he would start again from the beginning. The last time I saw it, there were six ticks next to some of the titles. I printed him a new list about two weeks ago. I issued him "Wrath of the Lion" for the seventh time just last week. He seemed fine.

One of the best things about working in a community library is watching people grow. The toddlers who listen intently to "Hairy Maclary" are soon doing homework projects on The Tudors, and the schoolkids who'd spend hours copying facts out of Encyclopaedias soon become moody and amazing teens. And it's a strange thing to observe people like this, week in week out. But sadly, we also see the reverse. We watch people grow older, notice their coughs getting worse, their bodies growing shaky and frail. And even though we might interact, we are not part of their lives, we are just witnesses. But that doesn't make it any less sad when they go.


missyaggrevation said...

Aw, what a happy and sad post.

Paul Capewell said...

This was a very bittersweet post, and I'm really pleased I stumbled on it.

It also makes me miss my time in the library sorely! Getting to know the regulars (but never too much - just enough) was such a joy. And of course you see the likes of which you mention, the new families moving to the area, the people who have been using the service for longer than you've been alive, and the occasional death.

Ack, I'm just rambling now but thanks for sending me on this voyage through memories :)

emma said...

Thanks Toni. Thanks Paul, I'm glad you stopped by, and I liked your ramble.