Life I was watching Love and Other Catastrophies again last week just to see how well observed the post-graduate film course culture actually is. For the first time I could actually laugh at the jokes about auteur theory even if the references to Tarantino and Spike Lee seem a bit dated. Anyway there's a scene were one of the characters is trying to study in the college library and some 'lads' are laughing and joking. Eventually he tells them to shut up and then looks embarassed as they continue to talk and gossip.

If only I had the courage.

Some people need to study in the college library. They're either in noisy halls or their home is so filled with displacement activities and distractions that its impossible to do anything meaningful there. Work, reading and writing and learning and remember generally requires quiet. Which you would think you'd be able to get in something like a library. So why do some students persist in talking? And talking. And not getting their own work done but at the same time making sure no one else in the room is either.

I managed to find what I thought was a quiet forgotten area at the library in college. It feels like a proper university library too, the kind I'd hoped to be using when I first started, all wooden overhangs, shelves filled with medical journals and subdued lighting. And the first few times I've used the area you could hear a pin drop, apart from the metalic crack of the pipes in the slightly old heating system. But it keeps me warm and like the tick of a clock you get used to it after a while.

But the talkers have recently moved in. The other day it was actual staff members. A couple came through, one giving the other a guided tour. This meant that someone I've seen actively telling other people off for talking having a conversation louder than some televisions about the content of the shelves and were the staffroom was and (oh irony) how they expect people to be quiet in the library. I glanced over at a fellow student and we simply shrugged at each other. Then two blokes arrived with large rattly trollies and began empty those shelves onto them, shouting over to each other so that they could tick whatever they were collecting off the list. Score on for the library staff.

Today some undergrads were muttering away as though this was the only place in the galaxy they could possibly have conversation about whatever they watched on television last night. I wanted to turn to them, go to them and say 'Look -- I'm a film studies student and I'm currently for various reasons trying to understand a chapter which talks in some detail about superstring theory which as you can appreciate is not the easiest thing in the world for someone who dropped physics at GCSE and originally got in to university all those years ago on a Fine Art A-Level. Now will you please fuck off and discuss whether Pauline from Eastenders is looking a bit old somewhere else?' but I don't. Even when someone else appears and they go through a session of highfiving like they're in a gym.

So instead I try the glare. The sigh. Even the growl. I know if I do ask them to be quiet that in the end I'll spend the rest of the afternoon asking other people to be quiet as well, that I'm becoming pathalogical and boring and I won't be able concentrate on why some scientists simply can't describe what a superstring looks like (inside or outside a particle? You decide). I move. To another part of the library.

This place is even more gothic -- I'm actually sitting at a table which requires a trek through two sets of bookshelves to get to. This should be the place. I put my books down and start reading. Then I realise I've actually stumbled into a corridor. So as well as talking I'm having to listen to the trample of footsteps of people going from the room I've just left into the main part of the library. Talking. Look I'm not asking for this place to be anything like the catacombs in The Name of the Rose but it would be nice to have some silence. Then just behind I hear some more whispering. It's different this time. Sensual. I lean backwards on my chair to find a couple actually laughing and making out.

I somehow managed to do the reading. I'll know in the seminar on Thursday if my notes and memory are sufficient or if I ended up wasting three hours. I've some more reading to do on Wednesday and I'll try the home thing again so Manchester will lose my company for the day. But I think it can probably get along without me. But really I've got to think of something.


  1. Anonymous4:19 pm

    why not try speaking up for a change after all it is a library dont be afraid!! its the way you approach it thats the key. approach with a smile even make a joke of it if need be. its about judging the person you are going to will feel so much better for it whats the worst that could happen it is a fairly reasonable request next time speak up

  2. Well I mean I have done in the past but it's just that you have to think about the work and keeping your mind on the work and not losing your train of thought and it goes on so much that as I said you'd end up spending your day doing it! But I'll think about what you said next time.

    PS Who are you anonymous?

  3. What happened to the good old days where you felt compelled to whisper in the library? Have you encountered the cell phone phenomenon where someone is talking away in a loud voice in the library!!1 People are so rude anymore.

  4. Oh good gods yes. I mean there are phone-zones in the concrete stairwells in the library but people never have their phones of vibrate actually in the main areas so there's the ring then the dash for the door - if that doesn't break a person's concentration ... but then there are also the ones as you say who just have to take the phone call whilst they're at the computer or the desk. It's just so ignorant...

  5. that's an ace movie by the way. Had forgotten about it.