Joseph Golding, a veteran Nazi hunter with over 40 years experience in bringing World War II war criminals to justice, claimed to have ‘found a new lease of life’ following his decision to re-train with Ventnor Library as a collector of fines, tracking down long-overdue library books.
Forced to find new work because most of the major figures from the Nazi regime are either jailed or dead, an interview with Ventnor’s head librarian convinced him he had the ‘transferable skills’ for the task of doggedly hunting down library members who had kept books out many years longer than the strict three-week limit imposed by the library. ‘The job might not seem quite as exciting to the outsider,’ admitted Golding, ‘but the cunning shown by these library defaulters means the challenges are very similar – although my investigations sadly don’t take me to South America quite so often nowadays.’
According to Golding many overdue offenders have, over the years, moved home several times – often to entirely different villages – while displaying what Golding describes as a ‘suspicious’ neglect in ensuring that the relevant authorities are informed of their new address. Some culprits have even gone as far as getting married and changing their names, ‘living a normal life, with family and friends who’d have no idea they’re harbouring Catherine Cookson hardbacks with a very long waiting list of other keen readers.’
Interestingly, the reaction of Golding’s new targets is often similar to that of the ageing fascists he once pursued: ‘the tears, the denials, the attempts at rationalisation; ‘there’s been no harm done, we’d just left them in the attic,’ they say. That’s how the whole business with Anne Frank started, if you ask me.’
However other members of the public understand he has an important job to do. Friedrich ‘Freddy’ Austerlitz, a sprightly 97-year old who’s lived quietly on the Isle of Wight for more than sixty years, confided he was ‘somewhat alarmed’ when Golding suddenly appeared at his front door one day, but when it was explained to the retired dentist that over the past 40 years a lot of other library members had missed out on the opportunity to read his overdue copy of Nietzsche’s ‘UberMensch’, or listen to the recording of Wagner’s Ring Cycle he’d taken out of the record library in 1974, he was more than willing to pay his overdue fines of £78.92.
‘I don’t blame Herr Golding at all,’ said Austerlitz, ‘he vos only following orders, ja?’