The Aardvark Blog
A llittle kindness goes a long way
A llittle kindness goes a long way
So having determined not to go into work until around 11am this morning, my reading of the Observer was interrupted by a call from our wonderful bookshop neighbour Phil to tell me that our fire alarm was going off. Having rushed to the bookshop immediately to find a false alarm I decided to stay hence have been here since 8.20am picking online orders and answering emails. The best laid plans of mice....
And on the subject of the Observer how excellent much of the journalism has been since the start of the crisis I have promised not to mention. Three cheers for journos! Must be hard to keep the right sober tone when inside one is personally freaking out.
Another nice thing has been messages of support from regular customers who have been calling and emailing the shop. Just got one from one of our regular café customers to wish us best of luck and to stay safe. I confess to it making me a little tearful - something that has happened a lot recently. On Friday when driving down to pick up some books from near Battle we were listening to Radio 2 ( the van had no TP and we were anxious to get traffic news) when Zoe Ball played a record that was being played on radio stations right across europe at the same time. Gerry and the Pacemakers - 'You'll Never Walk Alone' - and within seconds we found ourselves both crying our eyes out. I have always felt a deep attachment to Italy and have visited many times, and the scenes on the television of deserted streets are hard to take. And the scenes of Italians singing from their balconies even harder to watch. Reminds me of the pianist who pushed his piano to the Bataclan after the shootings in Paris and began to play. Sometimes art and culture are all we have.
Before the firealarm excitement I was listening on BBC sounds to a Radio 3 Lunchtime concert that was excerpts from three Welsh Festivals last year (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000gbpw ). Liszt - that Ethel complained about - part of the Quartet for the End of Time, and the Walton String Quartet in A performed by the Albion Quartet at last year's Presteigne Festival. What happy memories we have from last year's programme, not least because we were able to attend more concerts than usual. I cannot wait to be in Presteigne again, although I fear that it will probably not be this year.
Clare who runs Broad Sheep the superb listings magazine for the Marches emailed to say that she was suspending publication from May as all she is printing are cancellation notices. A very poignant email and I hope and pray for the time that BS will be able to start publication again as it is an essential part of the cultural scene of this area.
Being in the bookshop on my own this morning with no customers and no colleagues is a very strange experience. On one hand it means that I can do whatever I wish without interruptions, on the other hand I miss my regular Sunday Morning conversations with customers - many of whom I have known now for years. Sundays are particularly enjoyable and we have regular parties of cyclists, motorcyclists and others, alongside couples and larger family groups and groups of friends. I hope that when all of this ends and we emerge from our bunkers we have not lost our capacity for fellowship. Or our sense of humour.
Yesterday to calm myself down I put books onto our system for an hour or so. Amongst them were a number of signed books by Brian Wildsmith, a signed Judith Kerr ( sadly not 'The Tiger ...') and a number of the new Pavillion titles that we just bought last week, Pavillion are one of my favourites amongst the publishers we deal with. I cherish the impromptu drinks we usually have when starting to pack up at the end of the Frankfurt Bookfair. I heard from a customer who came in just before the close down that the Frankfurt Music Fair was due to run for the last time this year and has now been cancelled. I hope very much that they change their minds and run it next year. All the arts are ultimately as much about people as about art works - how true this is of the booktrade - and we will need the chance to come together again when this is all over.
Our enforced partial holiday is giving Ethel and I much more time to read which is greatly appreciated. Ethel has finally got round to starting 'Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts' by Christopher de Hamel. I am de Hamel's only groupie and have now purchased all his books including the little study on Rothschild manuscripts and books of hours. He writes superbly and MwRM is a definite recommendation for a long read to get us through the dark times ( I don't currently have a copy in stock but can always and hand deliver if you are local).
I plan to write a blog on everyday that I am in the bookshop - and to hand over blogging to other varkinistas to give you some different perspectives - so you have been warned. Keep safe and see you on the other side. And if you need a good blub visit https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=you%27ll+never+walk+alone .
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