It's Been an Education

Thanks to the British Library

I have been working in the British Library today. And they will be pleased to hear that it has been an education for me.

When I arrived at one of the many cafe areas to grab a workspace I was immediately irritated. There were lots of free tables and chairs and no queue to get a drink, but my mobile phone battery wasn't going to last the day and I wanted a seat with a power socket. There are many of these but every single one was taken up with someone on a laptop.

Tough, you might say. You should have got there earlier, you might say. And I would normally agree with you. But at every table with a power supply, without a single exception, was someone plugged into the electric using the free wifi and not one of them had bought anything from the cafe.

Here I was with my tea and an egg sandwich but no wall socket. And there they were, heads down, with their flasks, packets of cream crackers and water bottles, stealing the electric and the wifi. I just thought, if it were my cafe, I would tell them to buy something or leave.

As I started to unwind, in what is a very pleasant space to work, I cast my eyes up the walls of books and thought, this isn't Starbucks, Clare. It's the British Library. And these young and studious people are exactly the sort of visitor they encourage - the very reason libraries still exist.

Sometimes making money is simply not the damned point. And it was good to have a reminder.