Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Keep Calm And Carry On

It’s been over a month since my last post to this blog and I’ve many excuses; but mostly, I’ve been very, very busy—even a bit frantic! 

My busy-ness has been all good:  the wedding of an old friend of mine, newly reunited with a love she had 26 years ago; guests to take to places all around this breathtakingly beautiful state of Arizona; and best of all:  babies!

Another beautiful sunset over the mountain at the back of my house.

A few weeks ago, I had my first grand-baby—a beautiful girl named Hannah—and am expecting my second any day now.  It’s a lovely, joyous thing to have a new baby in the family; it’s fun and exciting to plan baby showers and go to doctors’ appointments and “birthing” classes!  It’s fun to help decorate a baby room and to find beautiful stuffed animals and baby clothes wherever you go. 
Guest-decorated bibs and onesies.


Ready to play.

Hannah & Nana - and I made the blanket!

And it's quite wonderful to hold a baby in my arms again. 

But all this requires that I be in the car and on the road much of the time:  wedding almost 3 hours away in Tucson; baby Hannah 1 hour away in Phoenix; expectant mother 6 hours away in Los Angeles….  It’s exhausting!  And when I’m home, I’m often frenzied as I try to catch-up with those many things left undone.

Then I remind myself to take to heart those words of wisdom from World War II:  “Keep Calm and Carry On.” 

For those not familiar with the phrase, these words were on a poster printed by the British government during the war.  It summed up with extraordinary simplicity what citizens needed to do during this time of upheaval and fear:  they needed to take care of the business at hand and go on with their lives….

The Original Poster

But the story of the poster does not end with the war; and the newer part of the story begins with a bookseller.  (Of course!)

Barter Books is one of the largest bookstores in England—and I’ll bet it’s one of the most beautiful, too!  It was built into a beautiful old Victorian railroad station; and it manages to be both large and cozy at the same time.


And it was here that an original of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster was found in a box of old books.  As they tell the story on their website,

“After being forgotten for more than half a century, a rare original of the now famous WWII poster was rediscovered in a box of old books bought at auction….

When the bookshop owners had the poster framed and put up in the shop, customer interest was so great that in 2001 the couple started producing facsimile copies for sale - copies which were soon copied and recopied to make of the Keep Calm poster one of the first truly iconic images of the 21st century.”
Isn’t that grand?

Here is a 3-minute video that tells the history of the creation of the original poster, with footage from the period; it also shows some fabulous scenes in the old railroad station and tantalizing bits of the store’s interior:

Barter Books has a gift shop and an on-line store from which, among other things, you can buy a facsimile of the poster—or even mugs and tee shirts and mouse pads and more—all with the iconic red and white sign on them.  Who can resist?

Beautiful as this shop is, there are many wonderful ways to display books. (See my posts on public, private, and “little” libraries.)  And as my blog has somewhat morphed into one that is concerned with the state of “real” books in this electronically focused world, readers have been sending me articles and photos and videos on the subject.  As I do want to write about other things, I plan to have a postscript from time to time with more news on the “real-books-are-wonderful-and-can’t-be-replaced” front.

Here is one such; can we call this an “exercise” library?  Whatever you call it, it can't be replaced by eBooks!

Exercise Wheel?  Little Library?  Perhaps both.

And wherever you read and wherever you exercise; and whenever you feel the stresses and strains of modern life, or the joy and excitement of new arrivals and happy celebrations:  remember not to be “frantic” and instead, think of the mantra:


Believe me, it works!