Excitement at the British Library last night: All of a sudden the PA system went into overdrive and the same automated voice that booms “the reading rooms will soon be closing” repeatedly told the building manager to “report to reception immediately”. Then the fire alarm went on, then off, then on again and a security guard shouted “evacuate the building!” while the siren continued to scream. So we all got up and made for the front door of the reading room but another guard shouted “the backstairs!” and we were led down a hidden passageway. If a crook had been plotting to rip pages out of a valuable book and sell them on the black market, now would have been his golden moment.
Outside in the cold, library staff handed out thermal silver foil body wraps and we all huddled together.
I got talking to two academics from the States, one of whom was a professor with a special interest in romanticism. As Ayn Rand was on my mind from these blog posts I asked him his thoughts on the Romantic Manifesto. He said he thought Ayn was a fascist - or a phase you go through when you're a teenager. He said he and Ayn approached romanticism from opposite directions. So there you have it: Ayn Rand, the rational supremacist oozing contempt.
But just watch this clip of Ayn talking about her husband as interviewer Mike Wallace smokes his cigarette:
Anyhow, the fire brigade arrived and after about 10 minutes another voice, a live one this time, came over the outdoor PA system and said we would soon be able to go back in. It turned out there was smoke issuing from a lift because of an electrical fault.
I kept the silver cape and took it home with me.
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