don’t judge a book just by its cover

…unless you cover just another. Burnt Oak Library, at the junction of Watling Avenue, Gervase Road and Orange Hill Road. And now, to my surprise, it has been painted black, and had a monstrous carbuncle of a tiled entranceway attached inexplicably to the front.

 burnt oak library

Which architect thought that was a good idea? “Oh it’s only Burnt Oak, nobody cares, that library is old and unwashed anyway, they should be grateful anyone wants to build anything there,” they probably thought. No, that new addition looks contrived. I thought they were new public toilets at first (as if). Yes, the additional CCTV cameras have apparently helped disperse the gangs of dodgy kids (apparently they now go just over the street). Apparently you can pay your council tax there now. There are lovely glass reliefs inside, because obviously Barnet Council has nothing better to spend that council tax on.

This is home, this is where I’m from, up that road snaking away to the right, though I now live on the other side of the planet. I spent many a day in this library nosing through the language books. there used to be these three great maps in the doorway showing Burnt Oak at various stages in history, from sometime in the 1800s when it was all farmland, to some time in the early 1900s when it was all farmland, to the 1960s when it was the metroland of the 30s, the Watling estate sprawling over red and orange hills (those are the names, forget colourful imagery, unless it reminds you of the brick and roofs). It was always rough, as long as I knew it, and it’s rough still (those phone boxes have pretty much never ever had glass in them), but it’s changed, it’s not the same, even since I’ve been gone. Everything must change. But you don’t have to paint the library black and put a colourful runway on the front of it. Just a few extra books would have been nice, and more useful.