Had one of those mornings at the library, where I felt like a newbie, rather than someone who's worked there for almost eight years. (Eight years?? Let me put that another way... 8 years!! Crikey. Where did that go??)
First thing, a customer asked me to recommend a book. Something to take on holiday. Not too heavy-going.
Erm...I said, eloquently.
Now you'd think working in a library, writing a weekly book review for the local rag, plus being an avid reader and all, I could easily pluck a novel off the shelf and say with some confidence, "what about blah, blah, blah, by Thing ? It's erudite, but witty. The author has drawn heavily on her experiences of shoe-shopping in remote areas, and I think you'll be touched. "
However, the first two books that sprang to mind were already on loan.
"Not much use then," she cackled.
"What sort of thing do you like?" I ventured, breaking out in a light sweat.
"Nothing too Mills & Boony."
"Ah. Family saga?"
"This..." - I show her a book with a waif in a shawl on the cover.
"Oooh no. Too depressing." (?)
"She's supposed to be good." Points to a Marian Keyes.
"Oh yes, she is."
"They're too thick."
"Do you like crime?"
"As long as it's not too gory."
Christ. How am I supposed to know? I haven't read them all.
"...they used to be on the telly."
"Like Diazel and Pascoe?"
"I prefer watching than reading that sort of thing."
"Horror?" I said.
"Too much like 'ard work."
"Feel-good?" I said, fingering a Catherine Alliott.
"Never 'eard of 'er.
"She's good though."
"What's she like?" Fingering a Barbara Taylor Bradford.
"Haven't read anything recently, but she's very popular," I said, fingers itching to slap her.
"It's just for the journey."
"What about a travel book? Like a memoir?" Clutching at straws.
"I know!" she said, eyes lighting up. "You do magazines here don't you?"
And off she trotted, mac flapping gently. I felt sad that I hadn't managed to persuade her, yet strangely happy to see the back of her.
"Excuse me," said a scholarly looking gentleman, as I approached the enquiry desk. "Could you help me find a bibliography of fiction published in India pre-1947?"
Ever had one of those days??