On pubs and libraries
The ideal pub has a large proportion of regulars, no amplified music – so it is always quiet enough to talk – barmaids who call everyone "dear", a good fire burning, a plain dining-room upstairs, pub games in the public bar, and a garden. This is not my idea, but George Orwell's, and he was right.
The George and Dragon in Hudswell, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, has gone one better by setting up a library, run by volunteers. To tell the truth, the whole pub is run by volunteers, like the village shop in Ambridge and other resorts of countryfolk. They know that life hangs together with a local pub, shop, school, church and library. . .
We can't see the point of novels in a pub - we'd miss out on the characters sitting around us - but we like the idea of reference books, for the questions that pop up. Sitting in the local pub close to the Shawford Station, we wonder whether the amazing Stephensons built railway lines in Hampshire.
Christopher Howse mentions the people who gave us libraries for free. Passmore Edwards was one. Entrepreneur industrialist Andrew Carnegie, 'who founded 660 libraries in Britain', and hundreds more in America, was another. As a little girl, Cat used to visit one of the community libraries established by Carnegie. Outside of trees, and climbing them, it was her favourite place to be.