The other month as I was listening to recordings of African drums during candidate presentations for a new School of Music academic position, my mind wandered to my old friend, Neville, and with sadness, I finally acknowledged to myself that he was indeed gone for good.
I first met Neville in my second month here at Cardiff University… three years ago, now. It was whilst I was sorting through the jumbled contents of a half-forgotten storage cupboard, that my eye was caught by two things. The first was a set of boxes wedged in the top-back corner by the hot-water pipes (which I’ll come back to in a moment), and the second was a rather ominous carrier bag whose contents had me tumbling out of the cupboard in dazed confusion, and quickly making my befuddled way back to the library.
“Well… I’m not swearing to it… and maybe I need a break,” I stuttered no doubt incomprehensibly, “but… well, I could have sworn I saw, next to the deflated football a… well… a plastic inflatable giraffe.”
“Oh yeah,” they responded nonchalantly, “the giraffe. Wondered where he got to.”
“–“, was my dumbfounded response. Inflatable giraffe? They didn’t mention that in Library school! Was this a British thing? Did every library have an inflatable giraffe in a back room somewhere?
And thus began Neville Joffre the Giraffe’s be-taped and sagging reign on top of the bookcase in the Music Library office… a reign that appeared to come to an untimely end with our relocation. In the past year that we’ve been settling into our new site in the Aberdare Hall Library Wing, I’ve searched high and low, rummaged through boxes hither, thither, and yonder, but Neville never resurfaced. Looking back, I have vague and foggy memories of packing up my office for the movers, and maybe, just possibly, looking at Neville’s cracked and peeling tape and deciding that his time had come.
Like I said though, the memories from the chaotic September of ‘09 are admittedly dim, and I had held out hope for Neville’s conquering return. Until, of course, I sat in the School’s chilly Large Lecture Theatre and was forced to admit to myself that Neville was no more. And as for those boxes…
Well, the boxes in the top-back of that cupboard turned out to contain the very interesting Nancy Storace (aka Anna Selina) collection of plate-glass negatives, floor plans and correspondence related to the woman who premiered the role of Susanna in Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro”. This summer, the Storace Collection was moved with the Mackworth, Aylward, and BBC music special collections to SCOLAR, where plans are underway for cataloguing and digitisation. To view any of the Music Special Collections, please contact Alison Harvey, Assistant Archivist at firstname.lastname@example.org.