When is a Book not a Book?

Place & Memory


When is a book not a book? Take eight artists, leave them in a field, a street, a wood, hospital, graveyard, or an abandoned, industrial folly. Leave them to explore, then send them away, and tell them to create.

Do all this, and they might just win an award when they’ve finished.

Pen traced bus journeys, poems laced with expletives and read from a pulpit, pages filmed, blowing in the wind, keys tossed into a stream, condolences written to memories.

Tell 8 artists to pick a place, then leave them to create all these things, and much more.

When is a city not a city? Litter the city of Leeds with 8 artists, and allow it to tend to their hopes. Wait while those artists suckle on the spires and paving slabs.

This is what the Place and Memory mentors did, and so, the artists delivered.

When is a book…

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Captain Smartarse

When the librarian told our writing group, that we would no longer be able to use the room, set aside for groups; and would instead, be stuck in a corner of the library itself, my very first thought was, what about Captain Smartarse?!

If you’ve read my facebook wall, you might know that Captain Smartarse is the bane of my library day. 

Imagine if you took your pub bore, out of his natural habitat, and relocated him in to the centre of your local library; that is Captain Smartarse. 

Captain Smartarse doesn’t wait to be asked, to offer his opinions; and these are endless, believe me. Captain Smartarse will listen out for a conversation, then jump straight in with his views on whatever subject is being discussed. 


Captain Smartarse is the Chinese Water Torture, made flesh; a relentless drip, drip, drip, of empty, pointless words. 

The fact that his views veer to the right, swerving straight past reason, doesn’t help matters; but it isn’t so much the content of his speeches that annoys; it is the fact that they’re are always there.

Captain Smartarse is the late night, leaky faucet, you simply cannot ignore. 

So when the librarian told our writing group, we would in future have endure the drone of Captain Smartarse, my heart sank. 

What will we do? I’ve suggested we relocate ourselves. Maybe one of the runways at Leeds and Bradford Airport would do; it would definitely be quieter than my local library.