Wednesday, 5 September 2007

The Scent of a Woman.

As I go about my day to day business of hexing and thinking up new ways to get my revenge, I look to my elders and those with more experience for inspiration and general cantankerousness.

I often find an endless supply of loonies at our local library whose odd traits never cease to surprise me - during Monday's visit, an elderly gentleman sat reading the local Guardian, picking his nose, belching, and farting without a care in the world. Oh, to live in a world of such sublime disregard for social morès!

Today, as I sat at the library, printing off some documents (my crappy, crappy printer has broken and I cannot get three knives into the slots at the same time to open it up), deeply ensconced in my thoughts, my nostrils were assaulted by the most lethal stench of stale urine and body odour I have encountered in a long time. It was like sticking my nose into a bottle of Sal Volatilé, so dramatic was my recoil.

I turned to isolate the source of the smell, and there, talking loudly to herself, peering at the local papers, was a sweet-looking (but not smelling) little old lady. She kept up a running commentary to nobody in particular that she was going to read the funeral section, "...although they don't call them funerals in this day and age, do they?" (I was quite intrigued at this point, to know exactly what they are called, so I fine-tuned my hearing, and stuck my nose into my armpit, which even at 3pm, smelt sweeter than the air in the library since it had been polluted.

"No, they call them oh-bit-CHEW-aireez now, don't they. Yes, that's right. Oh, I see that Jane has died again (again?) and there'll be an oh-bit-CHEW-airy for her, I reckon. Not that she was a nice woman. Oh no, she'll rot in hell that one. Wonder what she died of this time..."

I had completely gone off-track at this point, forgotten what I was there for, and sat, not even pretending to be busy, listening to this potty old lady.

She started to review the jobs section, stating that she would be a dab hand as a Personnel Officer - indeed, she could do the job standing on her head...And so it continued.

My PC flashed at me that my time was up, and so, I got up and walked to the desk to collect my print-outs, all the time listening to the soliloquy going on behind me. There was another old woman at the desk, checking out her books; a very strontient, loud lady, who had told the whole library earlier that she was after a young man, looks not important, to taxi her around the shops as she was fed up with walking. I am not sure if she was deaf, or just liked to talk at the top of her voice, but I think the whole village was familiar with her comings and goings after five minutes.

As I reached for my print-outs, the loud woman declared, "IT BECOMES OVER-POWERING AFTER A BIT, DOESN'T IT? THE SMELL, YOU KNOW!" I dropped my sheets in surprise, and lifted my chin up from the floor, as, without missing a beat in her one-woman performance show, the smelly old lady, retorted, "No it doesn't, and you should shut your big fat mouth, you rotten old cow!" and then continued to bemoan the recurrent death of Jane.

I'm afraid an embarrassing cackle escaped from me, and I stared at the librarian, whose hysterical stare must have mirrored mine. The cackle turned into a loud laugh and I grabbed my stuff and scarpered.

As I got through the doors, the loud lady had started up a battle with the smelly lady. I have no idea whether they had to call in enforcements to break it up, and I certainly wouldn't like to say who I would have backed if I was a gambling woman. But libraries are fast becoming my favourite hang-out for free entertainment. Who needs television when you've got smelly vision?


Matt Chingduvé said...

Lord have mercy!

I'd have love to have been a fly on the wall, but even a fly might spew up at the smells on offer in there!

Amel's Realm said...


Unfortunately Sodankylä library has been pretty tame for me. At least it seems that way since I don't understand a thing that they're saying he he he...

I never thought that you could find such oddities in a library, though. Interesting!!! ;-D

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Yikes!! I've only ever been to the big public library in New York to 'work' in the reading room. I didn't notice any bad smells, but there was lots of totty, all pretending to study for their bar exams while secretly checking everyone out. It's a hotbed of restrained lusty pash in there. I love it :-)

Agnes Mildew said...

Matt: The flies were looking somewhat green around the flies have gills or are they exclusively for fish and things which stick to rocks?

Amel: You find all sorts of odd things going on in public institutions in the UK. I could write a blog about it...what a good idea!

FWB: I am becoming rather envious of the carryings-on in your neck of the woods...I can see that I might have to think seriously about upping sticks to America when my family shackles are broken instead of going back to the Middle East...I don't think Oman had a library, apart from a box room containing Oil & Gas journals in the offices I worked!

Amel's Realm said...

Ooohhhh...I'd LOVE to hear about all the odd things in the UK. DO write more if you have time!!! YES YES YES!!! *drooling*

alcoment said...

Your library is so much better than mine - at least you get some excitement in there. Mine is full of people having a quick nap, or groups of screaming (aren't you meant to be quiet in these places!) kids attending storytime, whilst the parents leg it out for a cigarette!

Agnes Mildew said...

Amel: I am sure there will be plenty more posts to follow! Everywhere I go, I seem to bump into nutters, so the potential material is endless!

Alcoment: We do also get the snotty nosed kids in the library, too. I turn on my heel when it is reading hour for them and come back when the old loonies have come back in to cause trouble.

Jayne said...

oooh! This sounds even more promising than the airport.

Please do keep us posted on the escapades of the literate, but unwashed.

thewishfulwriter said...

Yep, libraries are excellent for people watching as they don't discriminate against any one population and are often a safe haven for the more, how shall we say, street-bound folk.

I too have a terrible habit of laughing at times that might be a bit innapropriate. But I can't help it. Had I been in your shoes, loud lady would have totally made me get the giggles too.

Agnes Mildew said...

Jayne: I have no doubt that I shall have many more stories of the literate but unwashed and even the illiterate and unwashed to regale you with on a regular basis.

Heather: Seeing exchanges like these, in public, are enough to put a spring in my step and make me feel glad to be a nosey eavesdropper. Our village is populated by either ancient loonies or the obnoxious, languid yoof. It's an almost bottomless supply of material.