Influenced by the Library of Birmingham’s mantra of ’re-writing the book’, fusing the traditional old-fashioned library space with new cultural mediums and concepts, the idea of re-writing classic novels (or at least utilising the main themes/plots) within a Birmingham setting materialised in my mind. For my first experiment, I took inspiration from Cervantes’ Don Quixote, a satirical text which focuses on a Spanish man so enamoured with chivalric tales that he himself becomes a knight, imposing his own fictional perceptions of the world on less-than-forgiving ‘sane’ society. This book choice was also important as Don Quixote itself features a main character who ‘re-writes’ himself into his beloved books of chivalry and re-fashions a new world from its existing forms and shapes, imbuing his surroundings with a unique vision. This is what I believe to be the role of the new library; to provide people with the tools and inspirations to alter their own lives, use their imagination, realise their own creative potential and to be the main character in the epic saga of their own lives. So, without further ado, I present my first part…
Adam Quinn was a soul endowed with limitless ideas and a brain that knew no bounds. Fortunately for Adam, the Library of Birmingham (a building completed in 2013) and still standing strong in 2017 had the medicine to cure all of his creative ailments. It lit the touch paper of his imagination and fuelled his innermost dreams, feeding his brain cells with the juices of knowledge and discovery. Its enormous collection of books filled his head with all things fantastical and its amphitheatre imbued his spirit with wonder, passion and guile. This tale however tells of a time when Adam outdid even his wildest designs. It started on what was a normal Wednesday afternoon and a routine trip to the Library to gorge on its archives, innovations and most importantly, its books. After slamming shut the final page of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and still fully immersed in the mystical, ethereal fantasy world encased in the hefty tome, Quinn decided that he was bored of reading of the adventures of others in books, he would have his own. He resolved that he would embark on a quest (an old-fashioned knightly-quest at that) around his home town of Birmingham in order to win the hand of a beautiful girl who often frequented the outskirts of the Library but who never once stepped inside the building. Adam had often attempted to woo her and coax her inside but she had always flatly refused, in fact, she did not even grant him the pleasure of reacting to his suggestions and questions, choosing to remain tight-lipped and ignorant of our despairing hero’s charms. So then, a journey to prove his might would surely crack her icy heart, or so Adam thought. Recruiting his younger brother as his squire, he soon set off on an important preliminary mission.
“I must embark on my quest with a beastly companion because after all, what’s a hero without a noble steed?” he asked theatrically.
“Why no hero at all, Adam”, said his little brother, who had become fully involved in this pretense.
“Then I shall claim one and I know just the creature, a tough entity who rules his territory with an iron, or should I say, a bronze fist!”
“Very good, Adam.”
“This is the last time, Steven, you shall address me as Sir!”
After cunningly entering the beast’s lair (made easier by the Bullring’s efficient escalators) Adam stole from behind his prey and met it head on. The beast maintained its elegant yet stern pose as Adam snarled to his brother and the few onlookers, “Behold, people and peasants of my fair city, the Bronze Beast of Birmingham in all of its ferocious grace. I will now attempt the impossible and not only tame this warring spirit but shall put a leash on him and ride him on my quest to my fair lady’s heart!”
The bemused onlookers who had now multiplied to a confused crowd chuckled on as Adam readied himself for battle.
“So, you remain stoic and stationary even when threatened by one of the most fearless warriors in the land, well have at thee thou poisonous beast” he exclaimed after removing his plastic sword from his coat pocket (commandeered from the ground floor of Selfridges) which he believed to be made from the finest Elvish metal.
“From hell’s heart, I stab at thee!” came the guttural cry as Adam charged at his Bronze foe. Raising the blade above his head, he proceeded to slice away much to Steven’s hidden amusement.
“Get him, Sir, be careful of its powerful gore”, he shouted through the tears of his laughter.
“Yes, thank you Steven, everything is under control. Don’t worry Ladies and Gentleman, this fearsome beast will soon be liberated from its tyrannical rein on this square”, he spoke, after making a final dash at the Bronze figure and kicking it for good measure before ascending its back and raising his sword aloft.
“People of New Street and those areas beyond, not only have I defeated your oppressor but I have tamed him and now ride him as my own. Come, Steven, we must go forth and continue our mission to serve my good lady and win her heart with my valiant actions.”
“Erm, Sir, we appear to have some guests”, quivered Steven, referring to three uniformed Police Officers who were staring at the raving man astride the Bronze Bull.
“Excuse me Sir, do you mind telling us what you’re doing on top of that statue?”
“ See Steven, these gentlemen know how to treat a nobleman”, he quipped at his squire before turning to the Officers, “Citizens, everything is fine and dandy, I have tamed the fiend and wish to take him on my way. No need to thank me for I am the noble Sir Adam Quinn of East Kings Norton, the most awesome warrior this city has ever seen!”
“Sir, we’d like you to step off the statute. It’s a public offence to remain on the Bull.”
“What do you say, villain?! Are you in cahoots with this thing, this vile beast? Have at you for supporting this oppressor of people, this tyrant of town!” he cried as he leapt from the figure and poked the speaking Officer in the stomach with his sword. The officer’s fellows soon advanced on the crazed Adam and tackled him to the ground.
“Help me, Steven. It appears that this beast has more support than we thought!”, he shouted as his voice became increasingly muffled.
“Help is on the way, Sir”, bellowed Steven as he charged at the officers…