How funny. It always makes me smile at what makes me smile.
I was in the very Dickensian Birmingham Law Library this morning (Temple Street, city Centre, Birmingham) carrying out some legal research. The place was as quiet as could be, with vast tomes surrounding me, some editions going back to the sixteenth century. It was one of those times I actually felt like I was a lawyer - eight or nine books were open in front of me with piles of notes to the side. An elderly West Indian cleaner moved ever so slowly around the library, cleaning and mopping.... and humming a very old tune I knew very well. It was an old hymn and it made me smile. I was willing the lady not to go, but she mopped her way towards the exit and out of the door before too long.
A little later, I was searching for a Law Report when something caught my eye. I'd never noticed the door in the corner of the library before - in fact I hadn't been to the library in years, and, when I did visit it was generally always in a hurry. Today was different, I had some time. The door led to a winding staircase and in turn to the gents loo which I never knew existed. I opened the door to the gents loo to see that it was all still in it's Victorian, or, at latest Edwardian state. The old lime tiles and grand loo marked "The Dudley" really made me smile. A marble urinal was perched near a window that looked like something from the set of Flash Gordon. Lectern like, I could imagine Emperor Ming standing at it - not taking a whizz, but bellowing something in a cracked 30's screenplay dialogue to his archrival; Flash.
An old yellowed typed manuscript sat on a makeshift desk giving instructions to 'modern saniatation convenience' or some such wording.
From a corner of the room that seemed locked in time, you could look out through a window partially obscured by card with the lettering 'Birmingham Law Society' and watch modern busy Birmingham pass by: office workers on wp's, pedestrians on mobiles. The whole thing just seemed so odd - and peaceful - and nice.
I got home a few hours later to discover a parcel. A notable midland historian I gave some help to had posted me some books on old Birmingham. Fantastic! I opened the first book to see a picture of a place not 5 minutes from where I'd been just a couple of hours earlier circa 1905.
As I'm typing this, I'm between work - and smiling a broad smile.