Friday, October 23, 2009

Stockbridge Library, Edinburgh

Written for The Scotsman. It really is a great library and after this was published I got extra special treatment from the staff.


For the fourth festival in a row I’m staying within walking distance of my favourite place in Edinburgh - Stockbridge Library.
Yes, whoever said comedy is the new rock and roll wasn’t lying.
Sober or nursing a hangover, I patronise this beautiful and practical building virtually every day during my month in the city.
Stockbridge itself is gorgeous with its village atmosphere of tea houses, cafes, basement pubs and lovely surrounding scenery.
So where can you retreat to when you are already staying in a heavenly part of the world?
For me it is the Stockbridge Library.
Now I’m not sure if my old English teacher, Mr Gilchrist, has followed my career closely but he would be astonished to hear me expound the virtues of a library.
But I may have been able to pass my A-Levels if a library in those days was as an enjoyable place to visit as Stockbridge library.
There are countless interests to occupy my time in a relaxing atmosphere.
I can read the classics while losing £10 playing internet poker.
I can peruse reviews of my show while losing £20 playing internet poker.
I can research the history of Scotland while losing £50 playing internet poker.
I can have a coffee and read the papers while losing £100 playing
internet poker.
And also for a library it has an excellent selection of books.
Although frustratingly “How to win at internet poker” is rarely on the shelves.
But it isn’t money that makes the world go round but the enthusiasm of people. And there are few people less enthusiastic than the staff at Stockbridge library.
They are infectious and helpful and they add to the pleasure of frequenting the establishment.
I’m also impressed that a library can have a WII console – that keeps the under 7s and my husband entertained.
So, I hear you ask - if I spend so much in an Edinburgh library what books would I recommend?
Well, in no particular order, essential reading matter for me to while away my time in Scotland is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, any Ian Rankin thriller, the John Lewis catalogue and the Shuggie and Duggie cartoon in the Daily Record.
I don’t expect it to overtake the Castle as the place to visit while in Edinburgh and it is just as well it doesn’t.
Because to me the Stockbridge Library is my oasis of calm during the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh during August.

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