Bromley House

Modern shops flank the cream, pillared original doorway to Bromley House. All of the red brick building above the door and shops is part of the library.

I love libraries! Mine not being a bookish family, my first experience of regularly reading junior novels at home rather than school came about because of libraries. We are used to them as free facilities provided by the local authorities, but the earliest ones were subscription libraries – I think I first heard of them when reading about Jane Austen, who I believe belonged to at least one and mentions them in her writing.

Most have gone now, but one right in the centre of Nottingham where I live has survived, despite a perennial struggle financially, to this day. It goes all the way back to Jane Austen’s day – and when you’re inside you really do feel as if you have traveled back to that time.

My financial struggles are as perennial as those of Bromley House so I’ve never been a member, but when I was walking past it a week ago I saw a sign advertising a guided tour and decided to finally get to see what it was like on the inside. I wasn’t disappointed. From the outside, the place is very unprepossessing. The doorway is swamped by modern shops and easily missed – I suspect most Nottinghamians aren’t even aware of its existence even though they will have passed it thousands of times. Not only is it much bigger on the inside that you would imagine, but it has a wonderful garden at the rear, a completely unexpected green oasis in the heart of the busy city.

The building itself is on about three floors, topped by an attic which once housed one of the country’s first photographic studios. Books are crammed on straining shelves just about everywhere in the maze of rooms, corridors – even the kitchen area! They don’t like to get rid of them at Bromley House and some date back to the seventeenth century. They do have a pre-Dewy-Decimal classification system for most of their books, which means that searching for a particular volume must be something akin to a magical mystery tour – no bad thing in a place like that.


It’s a great place for writers to get away from it all – I just wish I could afford to join (mystery benefactors and crowd-funding geniuses take note).

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I have to announce to my legions of followers that I have an impending court date thanks to an outrageous infringement of my civil liberties. In this age of Big Brother and draconian punishments, I had been debating about the legal strategy I might resort to. Luckily, the local paper has come to my rescue in a timely fashion by featuring an article about a similarly oppressed individual:

Take that, Your Honour!

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The End of Toast as We Know It?

First the terrorist attacks, then the possibility of war with North Korea destabilising the whole world, now this chilling warning from the BBC News website:

They normally illustrate such articles with helpful pictures, but presumably it’s felt that they would be too disturbing. In the interests of crusading journalism, I’m prepared to supply them myself:




Possible subsequent zombie invasion

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What is it with Public Toilets?

(That’s Rest Rooms, America – though personally, I go elsewhere to rest.)

Oh for the old days of MEN/WOMEN or LADIES/GENTLEMEN, and locks displaying ENGAGED/VACANT.

That’s all much to easy and obvious for the modern world. The way to tell whether the toilet at my local Costa is occupied is by way of a hole the size of the Higgs-Boson particle, deeply set so that the colour is hard to see without a magnifying glass and high-intensity light. And the colour is either red or white – not green, mind but white. Quite what those not familiar with the system are supposed to make of a white sign when first coming across it, I’m not sure. Many a time I’ve seen people bending forward to try to ascertain whether the toilet is engaged or not, only for the door to open and for them to look like some sort of keyhole peeping tom.

But you’ve got to find the toilets first. Motorways service stations have taken to using abstract symbols that look like they were designed by Jackson Pollock, with a barely perceptible difference between the pictures for the two sexes. I believe the worst ones are Milton services on the A34 and Strensham on the M5. At the latter of which on one occasion, I was on my way in to the toilets (having studied the pictures for a few minutes to decide which one I dare enter) when I was passed by an elderly woman scurrying out rather rapidly. I’m not quite sure what she saw in there,  but she looked dazed and shaken and was mumbling ‘Oh, dear…’



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Writing with Snoopy

In many ways, I look upon the little beagle as my writing mentor, so here is another example of the master at work. Permission from Charles M Schulz to reproduce this was channelled by my spirit guide Geronimo (which was pretty generous considering how much in demand he is in the spirit world).



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It’s Here!

Panic buy! Rush out of the house semi-naked, but with your purse/wallet! Knock people out of the way!

It’s the latest issue of Aquila, the children’s educational magazine.  Actually, you can remain safely indoors because it’s not available in the shops – you have to subscribe – but it’s well worth it. And it’s a Harry Potter special this month!

Most commentators agree that the standout article is the one about alchemy and the philosopher’s stone, by yours truly, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

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Remain Calm

I saw this in my local paper:



Personally, I think it’s something of an over-reaction. I’d have gone for German Shepherds, or maybe Dobermans. (Or should it be Dobermen?) Armed, of course.

Or it could be referring to the local ice hockey team…

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