If you were to ask any University of Southampton student to describe exactly what it is that plagues the Hartley Library, they might have a hard time answering you. After all, it’s a pretty nice place, right? It’s got a comprehensive collection of books and it’s generally quite quiet and it’s got that little café. Really, on reflection, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, right? No, absolutely no, wrong, negative, false, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect 200. Hartley Library has a disease at its very core and this is why it needs to be immediately annexed by Vladimir Putin, the ex-KGB agent and oft bare-chested President of Russia.
‘What’s your problem with Hartley Library, you hyperbole-spouting agitator?’ I hear you cry. Well, I’ll tell you what my problem isn’t. It’s not that the book you want always seems to be on hold, or that half the plugs don’t work, or that, on occasion, your ID card inexplicably fails to get you through the barrier. Those sorts of things are to be expected. It’s not even the stench poltergeist, annoying though that is. (What’s that? You don’t know what the stench poltergeist is? Look, I’ll show you. Go to the lobby. Stand around the middle, near that soft furnishing shaped like plus symbols. Take a deep breath through your nose. There! Did you smell it? Move around a bit. Try again. There! There it is! A distinct, yet somehow disembodied aroma. And not a pleasant one. It’s exactly what I imagine a hamburger fried in body odour would smell like. And the weird thing is, it’s always there. Regardless of time of day, or presence of people. In that exact spot. It even survived the recent total refurbishment of the lobby, which makes me think it’s some ancient, sentient pong-cloud that was psychically linked with the building 150 years ago by a satanic, library-based ritual. Or some such nonsense. If you have any clue as to what it is, let me know in the comments.) No, the one fundamental, insurmountable problem with Hartley Library is that it’s always full of students.
I can’t stand the students in the Hartley Library. They’re often loud, what with their talking and eating and breathing. Why do they insist on doing that? It’s a library, for heaven’s sake. Can’t you go inhale outside or something? And they take up so much space, especially the ones who plonk all their stuff down on a table and then up and disappear, shot-gunning the space for however long it is they decide to be chatting or eating or living elsewhere. I might sound bitter and angry about this, but I have good reason. On more than one occasion, a phone alarm (a passworded phone, I might add) has gone off in one of these absentee’s bags and the rest of us have had to sit there while it blasts out some electronic whistle or other for FIVE HOURS. Believe me, I would’ve moved away, were it not for the fact that every spare seat in the library was equally ‘booked out’ with laptops, coats and bags. Hell is most definitely absent people.
This is why I want Putin to annex the library. I want a Soviet-style police state established immediately and I want library enforces in khaki uniforms, balaclavas and jackboots roaming about the place. They’d have wide-ranging powers: they could encase the mouths of chatters in solid concrete, throw noisy eaters out of a window (preferably on the top floor) and, most importantly, they could incinerate any property left unattended with backpack-mounted flamethrowers. And they wouldn’t show any mercy either. You don’t get a first chance, let alone a second. You needed the toilet? Tough. Now your Apple Macbook looks like a Cornetto that’s been through one of those new microwaves in the lobby and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Now I think about it, the good thing about asking Putin to take over is that we wouldn’t even need to ask the permission of the University or SUSU. We could just hold a dubious referendum. The enforcers could be in place by next week. And who knows, maybe old Vlad could come exorcise the stench poltergeist too, while he’s at it? If nothing else, it would keep him out of Crimea for an afternoon.