It's not that often these days that I get down to London and so the schedule of what you do is always constrained. First,the purpose of the visit, second the friend whom you are staying with and third a specific close acquaintance with whom you have cause to catch up.  

The only other things I managed to squeeze into that was a coffee with a long standing fellow local history buff about how and where I might dispose of my local history collection of north west London and then a pressured sense of the train times.  Today I'm on time, indeed ahead of time and so get to pop into the British Library.

For much of my childhood the British Library was always in a constant form on construction and then - other than a year when I was a reader there - it has always been a great haven in which to meet or while away some time.  So today, running early for my train I stopped off.

Cool and spacious, it presents a superb relaxed stop off with items of great curious value and interest.  Even the most cursory exhibition taster is done well, but the bookshop draws me in.  There there are books for the eyes a-plenty and they are dripping with illuminated temptation.

Now age and cynicism may be a factor, leaving London may be a factor, running a second hand book stall is I'm sure, a factor, but I was totally struck by the prices of the next books.  Put simply, the range of what is for sale in the British Library is the best available, but the prices are also unremittingly high.  Now I get a quality publication at £20-£30 and I understand the books that are standard at £8/£9 and £10.  But the standard seemed to be more about £40 and £17-£20.And so with these acting as very effective deterrents to my purchasing more books at a time when I am selling books and reducing what I myself have, I left purchasing nothing.

And as I walked away if struck me that I was not alone in my conclusion and the case for more libraries not less was compelling and the effect of prices and budget pressure is the divide growing in Britain between those who can spend that money and those who can't and won't.  And none of us are the beneficiaries of a divide as deep as that.