Lady Bracknell conveys her grateful thanks
About two weeks ago, on one of her regular perambulations to the local lending library - an edifice whose location figured strongly in her choice of home - Lady Bracknell discovered to her horror that the library is to be closed for refurbishment from January until early May.
Her ladyship has a warm relationship with the library staff, possibly because she is one of a decreasing number of customers who actually borrow books rather than slumping morosely in front of a computer screen for an hour's access to the interwebnet. As she handed her returned books over the counter, therefore, she felt at liberty to convey her distress at this most unwelcome news.
When Lady Bracknell was informed that customers would be welcome at various other libraries in the city, she pointed out that this was all very well in theory but that, in practice, she is too enfeebled to make these relatively short journeys when carrying bags of books.
When advised of this difficulty, the head librarian (a most delightful lady) vowed that she would put some method in place which would allow Lady Bracknell to borrow unlimited numbers of books. If necessary, she said, she would go so far as to make her own, her husband's, and her son's cards available to her ladyship. In the meantime, Lady Bracknell was encouraged to borrow the full twelve books permitted on her own card, and to return for further instructions on the morning of the 31st of December.
Lady Bracknell therefore presented herself at the counter this morning, and returned the two books she had read over the Christmas hiatus. She then asked the head librarian how many books she might borrow, and was informed that she should take as many as she could carry without exposing herself to further injury.
Concentrating on paperback volumes for the purpose of reducing the overall weight, her ladyship proceeded to choose twenty volumes from the shelves, thereby extending her total borrowings to thirty, if one includes the ten which were already piled up in the hall of Bracknell Towers.
At which point the most estimable head librarian successfully achieved the remarkable feat of over-riding the library computer's insistence that no more than twelve books can be borrowed on any single library card.
Lady Bracknell, who has been a voracious reader from her earliest childhood (indeed, her esteemed mother assures her that she had taught herself to read before ever she went to school) , can think of few punishments more tortuous than the prospect of being deprived of reading matter. It is true that she has the means to purchase books, of course, but those of her readers who have visited Bracknell Towers will testify to the fact that they are in constant peril of being attacked by books either stacked in teetering piles, or threatening to fall from high shelves.
Lady Bracknell estimates that thirty books will suffice to satiate her need for written entertainment for something in the region of fifteen weeks (always assuming she is not confined to her bed for an unusual length of time), and the library is scheduled to re-open in the first week of May. Should there be a shortfall, the local Oxfam shop can generally be relied upon to provide a carrier bag full of acceptable reading matter for a fairly reasonable price.
Lady Bracknell is more grateful for the head librarian's act of kindness and consideration for the effects of her physical frailties than she has the skill to adequately convey. Although it is perhaps unlikely that any of the good ladies who work at the library (or, rather, who will be working at other libraries for the next few months) will ever read these words, Lady Bracknell is nevertheless pleased to have the opportunity to share the details of her good fortune with her readers, in case their own experiences have led them to suspect that exceptional customer service is an art not so much dying as firmly deceased.
Her ladyship is also pleased to express the wish that her readers will be well, happy and industrious in 2006. She thanks all those who have commented on her blogging efforts to date (either via the comments facility, or in person), and confirms that she will endeavour to continue to entertain and amuse them in the coming twelvemonth.