Before, I start, just let me say I’m a huge fans of cats and if the rest of my family weren’t allergic to them, I’d have a house-full.
There’s something about their aloofness and the way they don’t hide the fact they like nothing better than to bask in the warmth of a sunny room and have the rest of the world running around after them. A bit like teenagers… more on them later.
But I’m much more of a lover of curiosity than anything else on this planet! A good old-fashioned yearning to find out more about stuff. Anything!
As a lad, I was happy to sit for hours on my own reading massive encyclopedias and even a dictionary would help me swallow up a rainy afternoon in Scotland.
And we get them a LOT!
Libraries were always a sanctuary for a wee boy like me who’d been forced to move house too many times due to his dad’s occupation. Making new friends in school always took a certain amount of time, but there would always be the serried ranks of familiar books to instantly reconnect me to my disjointed geographical timeline.
So it pains me greatly to tell you that my teenage son’s new 21st Century state-of-the-art high school – which he is moving into in a few weeks time – does NOT possess a LIBRARY!
Now I am not a Luddite, by any means.
I make my living from a laptop for Pete’s sake…!
And I know you can store a gazillion books on a tiny hard drive.
But what happens when there’s a power outtage?
I mean, we get power cuts up here in the Highlands almost as often as we get rain.
And what are the chances of a teenage school kid making the effort to look up the history of cats in ancient Egypt when there is an online Call of Duty battle to be had?
Or the catching up of who did what to whoever, where, why and when on Social Media.
It just won’t happen.
Curiosity will slowly die.
At least the curiosity to learn about books. About words. Where they came from and why they were chose above others on a page.
I’m proud to say that an excellent book of short stories from the West Highlands of Scotland will soon be published by my imprint, Seilachan Fort. It germinated from an idea of mine to help foster a sense of shared purpose and thereby encourage a group of local College evening class students to keep coming back for more writing classes.
But we recently had a discussion where one of the talented author-contributors wanted to include a glossary of some of the more unusual Scottish words.
The rest of us vetoed this.
Our argument was that it is healthy to have words which might be unfamiliar and it’s even better when the reader is forced to do a little research and find out about them on their own.
That’s how we learn.
But now, instead, our kids will just lie back on the sofa and keep on surfing YouTube or maybe gaze vacantly at yet more cat photos…
PS: Do YOU think it’s acceptable to have a new high school built without a library? I’d love to find out out if this is a Scottish issue or a wider problem.
If you’re looking for some dark and gritty writing then check out my thriller THE DEVIL YOU KNOW. There’ll be a sequel in the autumn.
Not for the faint of heart but it’ll reward you for reading it.
“I would definitely recommend this book if you are looking for something a little bit different.”
“The effort was worth it. More than a story, I recommend this book to readers who appreciate good writing. I am truly impressed and hope to see more books by Alex Breck.”
Have you listened to my Podcast show Alex Breck’s Banter yet?