Aardvark droppings - The blog you can eat between meals
Heard of another secondhand bookshop closing by dint of retirement. Meanwhile Amazon have fallen out with Hachette over terms. Very good cartoon in the New Yorker which says it all.
Researching 'Wind in the Willows' for a customer came across curious fact that Grahame was a cousin of Anthony 'Zenda' Hope. Apart from Saki/Dornford Yates, can't think of other writers who were cousins. Lots of sibling writers Durrells, Brontes etc, but can't think of more cousin scribblers. An invitation for ignorance to be dispelled.
Best dumb comment of the day: You should provide lunches, then we could read the books over lunch and wouldn't have to buy them. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!
Second best dumb comment of the day ( from customer who had spent an hour looking around and was on the point of leaving ) : ' I must bring my wife here. She likes books.'
S told me over breakfast about the new French A Level syllabus. Half the curriculum is given over to modules on 'popular culture' and 'media studies'. Decided that if he came back Francois Villon would be a rapper under the soubriquet 'Frankie V'.
Best comments today: 'We didn't know that you were open', to wish the reply was, 'it can be difficult to know, but we did put an open sign on the door'.
'What are you doing with all these books in the middle of nowhere ?'
Slow day on-line but numerous phone orders and queries. Very nice customer who is doing a PHD on ideas of manhood in Meredith and circle. Big plus of running a bookshop is getting to meet people with interesting ideas. Needless to say given that it was the 19th Century ideas of manhood needed to include being bearded. Other useless fact about Meredith being that he married the daughter of the wonderfully named 'Thomas Love Peacock'. Do you lurvvve peacock, or you just pleased to see me.
Am suffering delayed heartplughole syndrome at death of a long-term friend/colleague at the end of May. To those who loved J ( which is probably most of those who knew her - exceptions 'YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE') we exist in a state of shock. Leaving us she knew not what a big hole/whole she left. From the Mem serv Christina R: ' Shall I meetr other wayfarers at night ? Those who have gone before. Then must I knock, or call when just in sight ? They will not keep you standing at that door.' Not sure but hope.
Have booked tickets for Lee Konitz at Brecon Jazz. Am almost overcome with excitement. Straight line connection to Miles and the pantheon. For those who have not booked I can offer only a lifetime of regret and shameless weeping. Also recd Basquiat Strings who saw recently in large tent with suspended horse sculpture. Not fully formed but simply extraordinary. Cannot push too hard.
Too long abscence caused by too much work and a pesky summer cold. In abscence top five things missed:
1) Craig Brown on the footnote. Hunt down on telegraph website
2) Very sad book on history of John Murray. How come it takes six generations to build something and only one to sell out. Perhaps unfair but the reasons given - not wanting the next generation to feel that they had to go into the business - seems sad. For fully glorious saga see late Humphrey Carpenter's history of JM publishers just released into an uncaring world.
3) Surprisingly upbeat figures from HMV. Suspicion is that it is computer games not books that have been causing the tillroll cha cha.
4) Birth of John Prescott as a literary celebrity. Go figga. Still could be worse ( see Lord Levy ).
5) Owner of SPCK bookshops goes bust in the states. I spent many years working in the religious book trade and was friends with many of those who worked for the chain. What has happened in recent years is a terrifying indictment of several decades of management. Had the chain been functioning as it should have been there would have been no need for a sale and things would not have reached this sorry point. Not for the first ( and I suspect not for the last time ) in my peripatetic career in books I am left to weep at the folly of those who are put in positions of authority. Does the bookworld attract duffers or is the trade just unmanageable in anything like a conventional sense.
Top story from saturday's papers ( which I caught up with over muesli and Chet ). Jonjon Ray in Telegraph celebrates the wonder of Pims as a summer drink. Then provides a 'Classic' recipe using mint not borage. Am thinking of cancelling sub and have written stiff letter etc ...