Tuesday, April 14, 2009
You know the drawing in pencil, or maybe charcoal, by Lowry, of Manchester Central Library? There was a print on the wall of my parents’ house when I was growing up. It’s a lovely picture, very simple, of this elegant, round edifice on St Peter’s Square. A slight hint of a UFO about it, or a wedding cake. I think in the drawing the library is less hedged around by other buildings than it is now, I have a sense of it standing alone. Anyway, that’s where I was last Thursday night, reading from TENDER, launching it, in a room that followed the slow curve of the building. The walls were covered not with pictures, but with wooden notice-boards inscribed with long lists of names in gilt letters. Chair of the Library Committee, Councillor So and So. And above the notice-boards there was a hole in the curved wall with wires sprouting from it, where a clock used to be. It had gone to be mended apparently, which felt appropriate. Time had stepped discreetly out of the door. I read a story (sort of) inspired by my teenage years to (mostly) strangers, sitting inside a picture from childhood, surrounded by the names of the dead. And felt a rare sense of aptness.