The Parting: the short story of a woman, the British Library and her prized wool coat
It was a miserable Sunday in February. Even the dogs didn’t want to go out.
“Come on Gareth”, said Claire. “Let’s escape from all this and go to the British Library. They’ve got an exhibition about the Georgians on.”
“Do we have to?” Gareth replied, who had a cold coming on and was only really interested in the Victorians. “You go on your own. It’s chilly out, take your warm coat.” Gareth pointed at Claire’s new red coat that he had bought her for Christmas, costing him, he pointed out at the time, ‘an arm and a leg’.
She shot an admiring glance at her coat. “Alright then.”
She lasted around 10 minutes in the Gallery before the heat started to get to her. The coat was snug and warm; definitely worth Gareth’s arm and probably half his leg. She would have to, she realised, take it to the Cloakroom.
As she approached the young man behind the desk, the coat urgently whispered:
“Don’t leave me again. I haven’t recovered from that trip to the restaurant last week.”
It’s exactly what she was thinking herself. It was a close run thing: she’d just stopped a woman nabbing it from the coat rack behind their table. An accident? She thought not.
“Don’t worry, dear,” she said soothingly.
“But what if someone else takes a fancy to me?” the Coat replied. “I’ve been getting envious glances ever since we got here. You could be gone for hours.”
“It really is alright, you know. They have a proper Cloakroom, and a proper cloakroom system. No tatty raffle tickets here.”
She handed the Coat over confidently and watched as her prize possession was hung carefully on a wooden hanger. She then saw the young man take two plastic cloakroom tags, one of which he slipped over the hanger, the other he gave to her for safe keeping. As she tucked the duplicate number 12 into her bag, she saw her coat sigh in relief.
“Take care of my coat, won’t you,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to lose it.”
“You won’t”, said the young man. “Your plastic cloakroom tag will make sure of that.”
And it did.
‘Georgians Revealed’ is on at the British Library until 11th March.