Friday, February 29, 2008
2 days in one posting.
Thursday was a day which involved putting together bookcases. Lots and lots of bookcases. Thank goodness that help was at hand in the form of facebook legend Martin Deutsch. He did manage to escape from the bookcase prison we built, but he was an absolute hero, not only helping me put together dozens of bookscases, but also setting up our broadband for us. It needed someone other than Tim or I to do it, as there were things like passwords and rubbish nonsense to negotiate on the old tatty computer we have for the shop. We'll be getting some better PC's soon but at least we have the www at our fingertips now.
Also in attendance for the day was Claire...who not only second coated half the shop but brought us a box of Big Green treats
Carlsberg, Aero, washing up liquid, it's all there and there isn't much left of the Carsberg or the Aero, although we've yet to open the washing up liquid.
I forgot to mention that a few days ago we got a package in the post from the very very lovely Amanda Lees, author of Kumari. In it was a load of Kit kats to keep the troops happy, and it certainly did. Thanks Amanda, you're great.
Today, it was all about finishing the carpeting, setting up the counter, and putting the bookcases in the right places. We got about a third of the shop sorted. here's a little taster (ignore the boxes) Red shelves? what are you thinking!?
We also got our main delivery
this'll be fun to unpack.
we also didn't get some deliveries that we were expecting. So there's a bit more work to do this weekend on spreadsheets.
Tomorrow is a facebook army day, and we've got a gang coming in helping us with making some bunting etc.
For the 4 people that have asked if we'll still be blogging after we open, the answer is yes indeedy. As long as people still want this nonsense, we'll keep writing it.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I wasn't really there today. But Tim and John were and when I strolled in to see them earlier they were getting along very nicely.
Today was my day for sorting out the opening etc and making sure that everything is getting done. It is.....
no, no i'm only joshin' with you.
Katie and I had put together a list of stuff to consider, and also things to make sure we could do. They were, in no particular order
- Stickers (made up saying 'I Love the Big Green Bookshop')
- Balloons with logo, address, telephone number on
- Make sure person who said they were going to open the shop can open the shop
- Bookshop Name Competition Winner is OK about everything
- Contact Shopping Centre nearby to see what they could do for us
- Contact library nearby etc
- postcards for people to fill in details for mailing list
- glamorous guest appearances throughout the day
- posters to cover the window of the old Waterstone's? (still an empty shop)
- Local Newspaper coming to take photos
- All local residents associations aware of shop
- kid's character costume
- contact all local schools
we have a budget (i'm sure i put it somewhere) and some of this list we will do, and some we won't, but our attitude is to think like a big bookshop. If you don't ask, you won't get, and although JK isn't available (she never returns my e-mails), I'm sure we can do something that will be memorable.
The star of the show so far is this gorgeous creature Oh yes, Maisie Mouse will be making an appearance. (I'd better not mention about two of her distant relatives that i've dispatched recently). I have the wonderful Juliet Miles from Walker Books to thank for arranging this. Ms Miles is Maisie's agent (and also works in the Marketing Department), and after moving a few things round in her busy schedule was able to arrange a limo for Maisie to make the trip up to Wood green from her plush hole near Vauxhall.
There's more crazy stuff and we've had our portraits painted by an amazing artist called Cally Gibson. Cally is an absolute star and I suggest until she tells me how to see more of her work, you ask her kindly to be a friend on facebook, because she's a wonderfully talented artist and she's got a great portfolio on her facebook page.
she has now told me that her website right here, and it's even more amazing than I thought it could be.
I bet you never thought before you started reading day 7, that you'd appreciating art, did you.
Ikea construction tomorrow. Nuts.....
the morning didn't promise much in the way of progress, as we decided to do a few fiddly jobs, so although it was quite frustrating it was very necessary.
The man from BT arrived on time and fitted the lines for broadband and telephone. He seemed to speak in an alien language that only Tim could understand, but he did the job and nicked off.
We went and did some shopping for primer, gloss paint, and 7 metres of wire, and looked at the possibility of buying some helium from Woolworths.
After a builder's lunch of beef pies from Greg's the bakers, we reached a situation where one corner of the shop was ready for a bit of carpet action. As none of us had ever laid carpet before, it was a bit of trial and error, but with a mixture of guesswork, two big sticks, furious stamping, and by hiding the mistakes the job was done.
We then started to put up a few of the bookcases to see what they looked like(really, this was just to hide the carpet edges). And after an hour or so, this is the result. Our show corner
The electrician turned up at about 6.30pm, and spoke in an alien language that onlt Tim could understand. He's coming back on Thursday evening and has said he'll stay until he's finished. This could mean a long night, so Tim and I have agreed to do shifts on this day (this means that i've arranged to meet a friend in the pub on Thursday evening, and Tim's going to sleep until CBeeBies comes on).
We got home at about 8pm, and I zonked out on the sofa by about 10pm. Katie is without doubt the most patient and understanding person in the world. Almost 5 months pregnant, she works all day, comes and sees me on her way home and cooks for me when she does get home. I'm very lucky and I hope I never take it for granted.
Im typing this on Day 7, which I will post news of later tonight.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I was a bit too tired to blog last night. It must have been that sleeping liquid I drank at the pub. Anyway back in action with an update.
An absolutely brilliant day. Tim, John and I spent the morning finishing the office and building a false wall to cover a multitude a chaos in one corner of the shop. We were expecting the carpet to be delivered today, as well as a new skip and the bookcases etc, so after a call out to the facebook army we had a team a legends turn up at 1pm to help with all the lugging around. Legend 1 is Neil Wilcock (Jameson's and coke), who used to work at the Waterstone's in Wood Green, before sensibly leaving 2 months before it closed to be employed at King's Cross station encouraging people to stand behind the yellow line and not to leave baggage unattended.
Second Legend was Stuart Evers,(kronenborg) back for a second time, who seems to have been given all the rotten jobs, like taking the plastic lettering off the front of the shop. He seems quite happy though..
Legends 3 and 4 were Kelly Arnstein (kronenborg), who's offered help ever time the call's been made and is a natural with polyfilla, and Mark Farley (kronenborg). Yes, the Bookseller to the Stars came for a visit from the lowly slums of West London to the glamorous Wood Green,
With a team like that how could we fail. The day was helped along by some lovely Cherry and Almond slices that Katie had made for us, and with energy levels high and skip delivered, we cleared all the rubbish out of the shop in a jiffy.
The next step, whilst John manfully continued making the false wall, was pollyfilla-ing the holes in the wall. Like a well oiled machine, the 4 volunteers shot around the shop and in a trice the job was done.
The carpet duly arrived and so , as we were so far ahead of the game it was already to put the first coat of green paint on the walls of the Big Green Bookshop!
A historic moment and as such we re-enacted a well known moment from earlier on in our quest,
As we started on the walls for real it was a truly great feeling. It was becoming a reality in front of us.
The team took over and with Tim sanding down followed hot on his heels by 2 people doing the edges and two people with rollers, all the walls (that are going to be exposed after the shelving's been done) were finished in an hour.
As we sat and admired our work, we realised there wasn't much else we could do today, and we just had to wait for Ikea to deliver the bookcases. I'm sure there must be a word to describe the very moment when delivery drivers finally appear, after they say they'll turn up at a certain time, are a little bit late, and you begin to worry that they're not going to make it at all. That was the exact moment the van arrived.
Once again the army took over and over a ton and a half of bookcases was carried in in less time than it takes to get to the pub from the shop.
Which is where we ended up.
There's more photo's on Mark Farley's blog and also on the facebook group.
It's BT day today, and we'll be taking the big sign down off the side of the building. And maybe a bit of painitng.
Just in case Tim and I had lost our touch, Stuart gave us a brilliant present. It's a book called 'Beginning In Bookselling. A handbook in Bookshop Practice' by Irene Babbage, and is full of wise advice from the halcyon days of boookselling. I'll be sharing some of the advice with you soon, but I think by the look of things Mark was keen to get his hands on it too.
The sun's out.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Another fantastic day in TBGB. Last night I sent out a request to the facebook army and also on this here blog for a lift up to get some paint and carpet, as neither Tim or I drive. Within minutes I'd got a message on my phone from the wonderful Caroline, who said she'd be happy to do this. What a star!
So this morning I gave her a call to make sure she was still OK to help. No problem, she said. In fact there were now two people who were going to help. So I went round to her house in the lovely Noel Park area of Wood Green, and met her and Hannah. The plan was that Hannah was going to drive me and then Caroline would meet us back at the shop to help out when we'd got back. Good Plan.
So off we went with my list, and managed to sort out all we needed in no time at all. Hannah and I chose the paint colour and the carpet for the shop. Here is the lovely Hannah with some of the spoils. After we'd chosen the carpet, it was decided that as the rolls were to big for the car we'd get it delivered instead. It was dead easy and should arrive tomorrow. Here is the very carpet that is on its way.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
today was a 'catch-up day'. Tim spent the day in the shop, knocking down the last of the walls, fixing some plumbing, and getting the floor ready for the corner carpets. He also did some sums and worked out exactly where the new walls have to go. He's very good at doing stuff like this, a lot better than me. With that knowledge in mind, I was sent off to Ikea on the bus. Katie kindly escorted me on the trip, and we arrived at about 1.15pm.
I had my list of things...
and we weren't going to diverted by the sneaky Ikea tactics. Apart from a bowl, we made it to the end and looked for a bit of help. A sad sack with a bad back and a pregnant lady shouldn't be expected to carry a shop's worth of bookcases, and after about 15 minutes a lovely Ikea chap came over and looked after us. It filled 5 trolleys and was not much fun to do, and if anyone has been to an Ikea on a Saturday you may either
- Sympathise with us
- think we are a pair of idiots for going to Ikea on a Saturday to do this
- not really care one way or another
we got it wheeled through the checkout and to the delivery place, where I coughed up 120 smackers to get it delivered on Monday. We got some vouchers aswell, as we'd signed up for the Ikea card, and as you get rewarded more vouchers for spending more money, we did quite nicely after handing over £2,300.
Got back to the shop at about 5.15pm where Tim was on his knees smacking out the last of the tiles.
Tomorrow we start putting up the new walls, and also we're going to go shopping for some carpets and paint (I think).
I'll stick up some more pictures on Tuesday, because it doesn't look much different than my last photo.
btw It doesn't look like we'll need a Van, as we've managed to salvage most of the materials we need, but we might need a car, so if anyone is up for driving us around for a couple of hours tomorrow please let us know!
Friday, February 22, 2008
today was more of the same kind of thing. Knocking down stuff and tidying. My superhero name would be 'The Tidier', as Tim and his brother John seem to know far far more than me about building/destruction, so I kind of tidy around them. I think i'm very good at it too.
Tim's superhero name would be 'The Human Crowbar' as he seems to take pleasure in pulling walls down whilst singing as song which he's entitled 'mindless violence'.
John, the one who's holding us together, would be 'The Silent Avenger', as he seems to do all the things that really need doing with the minimum of fuss.
As a superhero team we're invincible. Especially when we get to eat our special scooby snacks, and one of our fantastic friends off facebook brought some for us. Look!!
This is the wonderful Shell Rees-Jones, who made some very very tasty biscuits to keep us going today. They were well yummy. Shell is brilliant and should be applauded as she walks down the road whenever you see her. Don't forget now.
So with our snacks scoffed, we plowed though the rest of the day (no, I can't spell plowed), and this is the result.
We can now see how much space is there. And it should suffice I reckon.
We've now got rid of all the computers (that the internet cafe left) to local scavengers. We're giving the chairs that were left to the library, and we've kept a couple of the PCs for some local charities. It's like Bob Geldof and Bono all rolled into one isn't it?!
we didn't see anyone wee in the lane today. Result.
We got a skip delivered and filled it within minutes and will need another next week. There's a load a stuff to chuck out. There you go, isn't that fascinating.
I also placed all our opening orders with the publishers. They'll arrive at the end of next week (or the beginning of the week after). G de L, you can now process the order I placed with you.
I'm off to Ikea tomorrow to arrange delivery of the bookcases, and Tim's going to carry on being the 'Human Crowbar'.
fare thee well
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Last night a courier from the BBC delivered a video camera to us. We've been in conversation with them for a little while and they've been right behind our bookshop project. They said they didn't have anybody to interview us, and asked if we could do a kind of video diary thing for them to put on the Evening News. OK we said, and so this morning we got to the shop inreadiness for filmimg ourselves doing things like pulling walls down etc.
Then, at about 11.30 (after we realised we didn't have a tape in the video camera) the BBC called and said they were on their way and they wanted to do a piece for the evening news today. OK we said, and got a little bit excited.
Also, I must now say, last night I sent out a message on the Facebook Group (haven't you joined yet?), asking for people to come down to the shop at about 1pm to help demolish/say hello etc. I knew this was short notice and never really expected people to come down, but look at this person here!
His name is Stuart Evers, and he is lovely. I used to work with him at Waterstone's in Charing Cross Road, and he was a wonderful wonderful bookseller who was passionate about his job, and he used to love hand selling books to people. I haven't seen him for many many years, and he made the effort to come in and spend the afternoon helping us out.
And look at this person here!
Her name is Nina Grant (or so she says!). She is an amazing and talented artist/photographer, who gave up an afternoon for us and was a real breath of fresh air with her positive attitude and great sense of fun.
Thank you , thank you , thank you.
Right, so the BBC turned up at about 1.30pm and filmed/interviewed us, and lo and behold we were on the BBC London News this evening.
Now I can't find an easy way of linking this onto the blog, so if anybody knows how, please let us know. But here is the link. We're on after 18 minutes and 45 seconds (you can move the time thing along by clicking the line thing under the picture so you don't have to watch about fights, Spurs, or Post Offices, unless you want to of course. Blimey, what a palaver! Anyway we're rather pleased about this, and hope there's more on the horizon.
In other news today, we met our neighbours at the hairdressers and the cafe, who bought a couple of chairs from us, and will probably take a couple of the computers too. We're flogging them off for £70 each (that's for the whole computer system, what a bargain). We also saw 2 people weeing in the lane next to the shop.
At about 4.30pm the Meat Wagon turned up at the Big Green Bookshop. You've really got to see this. The Meat Wagon is an amazing lorry which is taking Joseph D'Lacey around Britain to market his amazing book MEAT. Here he is signing copies of the book for the shop. Our first author, and our only book!
Tim and I got into the Meat Wagon, which is quite simply the maddest, greatest most wonderful lorry, which I can't do justice to on this blog. It's basically a lorry, with the book detail all over it, and in the back of it is a kind of butchers table with cuts of meat etc on it. The sides of the lorry open and close revealing this gruesome thing. Here we are standing in the lorry.
Tim got scared after a few seconds in the lorry, and had to be given counselling. The book is brilliant, as i've said before, and I urge you to get your hands on a copy.
We left at about 5.30 and we're very happy with the days work.
I'm knackered, but full of energy at the same time. Is this possible?
On another note, I just wanted to thank you for your lovely comments we've had about our baby.
That's all for now, Simon returns later.....
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
It's finally happened. Six months of waiting, and this is what we've been waiting for
Of course we'll change them all tomorrow, but you get the idea. I actually found myself dancing around my living room earlier with excitement. My poor old back!
So Tim got to the shop at about 4.30pm (he had to get there early because a courier was delivering a video camera to him, curious eh?). The internet cafe was still full of unsuspecting punters obviously reading this blog. As 5 o'clock approached the internet cafe guys started chivvying them outside, and by about 5.30 after a few alarm/shutter/light explanations we waved them goodbye and stood in our shop as owners for the first time
All the gang were there. The lovely Katie(cranberry juice), the lovely Julie(strongbow), Tim's brother John(kronenbourg), George('Dad can I have this?) and Harry('Dad, what's this?).
We officially had the shop for 24 minutes before someone knocked on the window and offered us £40 for the counter(which you can see Tim working behind in one of these pictures). He'll be back tomorrow to pick it up. Someone's already taken all the fake plants as well. I'm not sure we needed to order a skip!
BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT NEWS OF THE DAY IS THAT KATIE AND I ARE GOING TO HAVE A.....................................GIRL.
all in all one of the best days ever.
i'm off to meet Katie to have the 20 week scan at the hospital. We might find out if it's a boy or a girl today! Either is perfect.
We're picking the keys up at 5pm.
I took a couple of photos of the shop, but here's a little game for you to play. Below, you'll see 3 pictures. One of them is our new shop, the others just didn't cut the mustard
Is it picture a)
or picture c)
Take your time...
4 and a half hours to go before we get our hands on the keys.
11.00am I can't sit around here any longer, i'm of to the shop to see what's going on. I'll take my camera, so pictures will be forthcoming very shortly.
11.30am Simon just called from the internet cafe. They are open for business!!! Don't they know they're moving out today?? It's a shame they aren't in the communication industry or anything. The body behind the counter is phoning his boss as I type.
We should collect the keys today
10.30am Call estate agent. Any news? Call you back? Really? Yes.
While I am waiting I get all my tools out of the shed, and pile them by the front door ready for the off. I am now knackered. Shifting tools is hard work, especially when the only exercise I have most days is vigourously towelling myself off. Some days I just drip dry. I am not sure if I am ready for the hard work to come.
Simon is off to check out the site, to see if they know anything. At the moment it's an internet cafe, and it's manned by several different nice men who all seem bemused when we go to measure up. We don't know if they know that they're moving out yet. Hopefully they are not open for business today, as that would be embarrasing...
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
can't stop for too long, lots to do. Tim's sorted out broadband and the telephone number and fax for the shop. It's going to be installed next Tuesday. We even had to put them off for a week, because they were planning on doing it today! We haven't even got the keys yet.
Our telephone number will be 020 8881 6767....nice and easy
We've got the card swipe machine thing ordered and that's going to turn up at the end of February, at the same time as our carrier bags. We aren't having plastic bags, and we've orderd 100% recycled brown paper bags. We're going to ask the locals to bring in their spare plastic bags so that if we really really have to use one then we have some. We've also ordered a large stamp with our name, address, phone and email, which we're going to stamp the paper bags with. That'll fun to do won't it.
The £60,000 mistake that the bank made has now been rectified so we have some money in our bank account again, we've joined the BA and ordered books tokens. The insurance will go live tomorrow, and we've arranged for the Bertram's (book wholesalers) guy to come in the first week of March to install our stock control system.
My new sofa is lovely, although i've done my back in lugging it upstairs. So it's a good job i've got a sofa to lie on.
Those little tricksters the estate agent and the solicitors still haven't quite finished having their fun with us. We're still trying to nail down an exact time for getting the keys tomorrow. You would have thought it was up to someone other than us to find out when the exchange of money is complete and where and when to pick up the keys, but apparently that's not the way it works in Big green Bookshopland.
The shop sign is going to be very big.
Still no van (I wonder if any publishers who happen to have a van read this)
Monday, February 18, 2008
Tim and I are psyching ourselves up for the task ahead. Actually Tim's in bed with a stinking cold, and I'm stuck in the flat all day, waiting for a sofa to arrive. Seeing as we've lived here since last July, we thought it was about time we had somewhere to sit other than foldout chairs and the floor, so we've splurged out on a sofa, that's going to arrive sometime between now and the end of the day.
It's giving me a chance to finalise all the little things that need doing before we get stuck into the refit. Ordering bags, finishing April orders, contacting all the suppliers etc etc. I've listed all the people that have offered help over the next few weeks, and when they're free. It's quite a long list and incredibly heartwarming knowing there are so many people out there willing to help. Maybe they've been reading the blog and thought 'there's no way that those two goons are going to be able to do it by themselves'. Either way, it's fantastic and a small tear is appearing in my left eye as I type this (i've just stubbed my toe).
So there's a bit of work to be done to turn the building into a bookshop, and for those of you who've asked me to put a photo of the shop on here....
This isn't it.
I forgot to take the camera out this weekend, so I haven't got a photo yet. Maybe deep down, the inner Simon doesn't want me to tempt fate by putting the picture up until we've actually got the keys. Or maybe I just forgot the camera.
Instead, here's a picture I took last night from outside the flat.
I call it 'Sunset over Sky City'.
Still no Van ( I wonder if anyone from Thames and Hudson reads this blog?)
Friday, February 15, 2008
as reality hits home that the shop is actually going to happen, we're becoming blurs of activity. We're off to Ikea again today, to sort out delivery of the bookcases and other gubbins. I'm a keen supporter of gubbins, so today's trip should be worthwhile. It's public transport for us. Our carbon footprint isn't going to get any bigger today. Hopefully the bank has sorted out the £60,000 mistake they made, so that we can afford to pay for it.
The sign has now started being made, and the telephone/broadband connection date is being finalised.
For those who've asked for a photo of the shop, i'll take one or two over the weekend, to give you an idea of the size of the job we've got. It's great knowing we have the facebook army on call to give us a hand, and I hope they know what they've let themselves in for.
I'm now the online book reviewer for Artrocker magazine, the best music magazine in the world. This makes me happy.
On Monday I will be posting a review on this here blog of one the best books i've read in ages. It's being published next week, but is already in the shops. Oh, sod it i'll do it now.
This book is very special. I don’t say this lightly. The more I think about it the more special it feels. Bloody Books (for this is the name of the publishers) have introduced us to an author that I think will be massive. Huge. Gargantuan. His name is Joseph D’Lacey, and he is seriously talented. His book is called Meat, and it’s published on 21st February.
I was given a copy of this book ages ago by the lovely Candice who was then working at Turnaround Books in wonderful Wood Green. She thought I might like it. I stuck it on the shelf, and continued to try and open a bookshop. As Christmas arrived, I had some time to catch up on some reading and I pulled it off the shelf again. I’m very pleased I did.
It starts with Richard Shanti running home from work. He’s in pain, his body tells him to stop, but he keeps on running. He’s punishing himself, and thinks that by pushing his body beyond reason will help rid him of the guilt he carries.
Richard Shanti works at the slaughterhouse in a slowly decaying town called Abyrne. His main duty is manning the stun gun. His are the last pair of eyes that the animals at the slaughterhouse see before they are turned into meat. He’s known as Ice-Pick for the seemingly cool way he dispatches the creatures at the slaughterhouse. The town of Abyrne survives for and because of the meat that’s produced, and their religion dictates that they eat the meat in order to survive. But there’s a small but significant group that suspect that those who control the town (the meat baron and the church leaders) are rotten, and prepare to sacrifice everything to get to the truth. But what is the meat that’s being produced at the factory? What exists outside the town? What secrets are discovered as the inhabitants of Abyrne get hungry?
This book is horror at it’s most horrific. But more than this, Joseph D’lacey conjures up an almost Orwellian dystopia, where futility seems to be accepted without question. If you had any idea how much I love George Orwell you would realise that this is praise beyond praise.
I’m not going to tell you any more about the book, because I want you to buy it and make it the bestseller it deserves to be.
So thrilled was I with the book, I contacted Joseph and he kindly agreed to be interviewed by The Big Green Bookshop.
And here it is
Simon; Hello there Joseph and thanks for taking the time to do this. It’s your first full length novel and it’s about to be published. How are you feeling?
Joseph D'Lacey; I’d like to say ‘that’s difficult to describe’, Simon, but I suspect I’m unlikely to get away with it.
Truth is, I’ve been working towards this for some time – about eight years, I suppose. So, for it to suddenly start happening, actually occurring, you know, to me, for real in reality and stuff is, like, just totally difficult to describe.
Okay, last try: I feel stunned, like an observer, it can’t be me this is happening to, the good lord must have made a clerical error. I expect I’ll feel the same when they tell me I’m terminally ill – only less ecstatically happy and utterly vindicated.
S.How would you describe Meat to the unsuspecting public?
J. Well, the first thing to say is: if you’re ‘unsuspecting public’, don’t read it. Trust me and just don’t. It’s a bit distressing. Conversely, for those who like such things, fair enough, tie your bib on and devour it with your fingers.
Meat is many things. It’s allegory. It’s fantasy. It’s comment. It’s exploration. It’s grim dystopian horror with a conscience. Most of all, I hope, it’s entertainment.
Horror, Fiction, Religion, Self Help, Cookery? Where should people look for this book?
Without wanting to give too much away, there appears to some fairly dark yet high profile marketing in the pipeline. Borders have ordered 1000 copies already and we expect other large booksellers, like Waterstones, to follow suit. So, mooch around in the horror section but also look front of house.
S.Have you ever played Monopoly and if so, what piece did you want to be?
J. I played a lot of Monopoly as a child. I always wanted to be those pieces associated with power and speed – the racing car or battleship (hell, was it a battleship or a cruise-liner?). Even the top hat had a little grandeur to it. However, I invariably ended up with the boot and losing. I have zero business acumen.
s.You’ve written short stories, poetry and screenplays in the past. As this is your first published full length novel, did you find writing Meat needed a different kind of discipline, and how did you go about it?
J. My main areas of endeavour have been short fiction, novels and the nebulously-lengthed things in between. Meat was my sixth novel. Quite frankly, things like poetry and scripts have increasingly become exceptions over the years. The discipline of novel writing (and you’re right to refer to it as such), is something I’m still developing. Everything I write is practice for something better.
With a novel, you have the opportunity (if not the inclination) to write at length. You have space to move around and to grow your characters and ideas. This is a sort of (painful) luxury that you don’t have in shorter work. What I do is set a daily word quota and start as early as possible in the morning. Around seven, say. It might take me forty-five minutes to hammer out my quota or it might take three hours. It might take all day. At that point, if I want to continue, I allow myself to. If not, I stop and start again same time the following day. Once engaged on a ‘long project’ I will write every day or, at the very least, six days a week until the first draft is complete. I tend to build up steam, writing more each day the longer the project goes on. I then shelve the first draft for three months before the first edit.
The elation of completion is rapidly followed by the unshakeable knowledge that I’ll never be able to write another word. When I’m not writing, I’m a miserable sod. When I’m writing, I’m a slightly less miserable sod.
Thankfully, my wife is an angel and takes all my nonsense in her stride.
S It says on your website that you get your inspiration, amongst other places, by God whispering to you at 7.23 in the morning as you sit on the lavatory. It must have come as quite a surprise the first time this happened.
J. Never should have mentioned it, should I? Everyone’ll be doing it and I’ll be out of a job. Actually, it wasn’t that surprising – when I’m on the lavatory is the only time the phone rings or my mother in law pops round. God had to join the back of the queue.
Ideas are not a problem for me. I’ve notebooks full of them. It’s turning them into stories that poses the challenge.
S.You must have done a bit of research, by your obvious knowledge of slaughterhouses. What was that like?
J. Nasty business.
The more slaughter footage I watched, the more disturbed I became. Thinking about the numbers is the most chilling thing; the never-ending lines of chickens, pigs, horses, cattle – even dogs. Some of it was meant to show ‘best practises’ but mostly it was undercover footage of abuse and dimly lit production lines where terrified animals met cold, rushed unmaking.
About thirty thousand words into the first draft I was so freaked, I stopped writing and didn’t start again for several months.
S. Are you really 100 years old and 242 cm (7 foot 11 inches) as it says on your
J. As everyone knows, the CIA gathers great swathes of information on potential dissidents and miscreants from sites like Facebook and MySpace. I think it’s only proper that they know my correct vital statistics.
Also, I’m really looking forward to people spotting me in the street: “Hey, look, there’s that tall, ancient writer going into Burger King. I thought he was a vegetarian. What the hell was his name?”
That kind of thing.
S. What are your favourite authors, and what are you reading at the moment (and what’s it like)
Over the years I’ve enjoyed James Herbert, Stephen King and Clive Barker. No surprises there, I suppose. I’m very badly read in terms of ‘literature’ and classics, but who cares? What I like is a good story. Story is everything, isn’t it?
I read as widely as possible but still prefer bizarre to straight stories. Recent top reads have been Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
I adored Douglas Adams’ hitchhiker books and read them in rotation for years and years. These days, I’m so panicked about catching up on my endless reading list I rarely read the same author twice.
Right now I’m into Spares by Michael Marshall Smith. It’s got great pace, a cool story and plenty of hardboiled irony. Definitely a good read.
S. Are you doing any events or talks that we might be able to catch you at?
J. I’m speaking and reading from Meat at Cambridge Uni on the 16th Feb and Oxford on 2nd March. There’s a live interview on Radio Europe Mediterraneo at midday on 22nd Feb too. I think there will be other launch events but my publisher hasn’t told me what they are yet! As soon as I know, I’ll tell you
S. So, what’s next for Joseph D’Lacey
J.The next job is a re-write of the novel we hope to release in ’09. After that I’ll be pulling into shape a rough draft I completed last year, before giving Bloody Books an exclusive peek at it. I’d really like to write one more new novel, something dark and claustrophobic, before summer ends. Then I’ll have a break and be miserable again.
S. Thanks for taking the time to do this Joseph.
J. Thanks to you, Simon. I’ve enjoyed it.
Joseph is a really nice guy, his book is awesome, and if you're lucky you may see him being driven around a town near your in the 'Meat Wagon' over the next couple of weeks. Buy the book for heaven's sake willya
Thursday, February 14, 2008
everything's sorted. We're getting the keys next Wednesday. Tim doesn't know yet. He's gone off to buy some door handles, so I can't get hold of him (or his doors, until the door handles are fixed). This should be a nice surprise.
Lots to do now. Including about 30 seconds of dancing around my front room.
Oh, and I've done a guest piece for PICADOR BLOG, just right for Valentine's day......
our solicitor's sent the money to the landlord etc. and they've recieved it (it's official). They've been in touch with our solicitor to let him know, and to negotiate a day to exchange. Having spoken to various people yesterday, it's clear that everyone wants this to happen as soon as possible. So let's see shall we.
Tim and I are off to Walthamstow to visit our small business advisor. We noticed that we we're suddenly massively overdrawn in the busines bank account, this was before we'd spent anything! It seems that the bank made a little mistake, and took £60000 out of our account, and they can't put it back until we sign some papers. What a hoot!
After a plea on our facebook group for help in the transformation of the shop into a bookshop, we now have a small army of willing helpers who are prepared to give us a hand for biscuits and beer.
Still no van though..
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
one of our most loyal supporters since the beginning of the bookshop building bonanza has been Judy Dyble. I discovered that Judy was and old Wood Greenian last year when we put together our list of people's favourite Children's books for national children's book week. Since then Judy has been keeping up with progress and sending messages of support. She's even sent me a book review to use in the shop when it opens.
Judy is something of a music legend. From her time with Fairport Convention, working with Robert Fripp and also being in the band Trader Horne. More recently she's brought out some solo work, and next month she has a new single coming out with a band called The Conspirators.
I thought that as its Judy's birthday today, i'd post up an interview i did with her a few weeks ago.
An Interview with the Lovely Judy Dyble (rhymes with libel)
How are you feeling with the new single coming out soon ?
Judy Dyble ;
Well, naturally it is very exciting, but there is a certain amount of trepidation as well and a lot of ‘What if’s’. Like ‘What if it doesn’t do very well, will everyone be cross with me?’ And ‘What if it does brilliantly, what’ll I have to do then?’ Oh I am such a worrier underneath this calm and sedate exterior. But the Conspirators are such a good and talented (and young!) band that I am sure (honest!) that it will do very well and lead on to other fantastic things for them. It has certainly opened up intriguing new pathways for me.
From what I’ve heard of it, it’s a lot more guitar based than your more recent albums. What was it like working a more rock oriented band like the Conspirators.
My early days with Fairport were as a rock band more than a folk band, they didn’t really start getting into the traditional folk plus electric rock instrumentation until after I left them, and Giles Giles and Fripp were more of a rockish band than anything else. Of course after I left and they turned into King Crimson - well, that was a rock band and a half! So for me to work with the Conspirators wasn’t too much out of my range of experience, it was just that I hadn’t done anything like it for a couple of decades! It was really interesting being back in a proper studio again with big mixing desks and vocal booths and that sort of thing, when my more recent recordings have been done in my home onto a laptop. Not that I am decrying the latter, it was a most relaxed way of recording and a gentle re-introduction into the world of music.
Can you tell us a little about your time in North London when you joined Fairport Convention.
At the time when I met the people that were to end up as Fairport, I was living in Crescent Rise, Ashley was living in Durnsford Road, Simon was in Fortis Green in Muswell Hill and Richard was living in Whetstone, Martin hadn’t really arrived then but did later. Our stamping ground, apart from Muswell Hill (The Royal Oak, the Banderella Coffee Bar and the record shops, whose names escape me) were places like the Starting Gate pub which had different music on different nights, (Soul, Folk ,Jazz), the Fishmongers Arms (Jazz) and Cooks Ferry Inn (Walthamstow I think) and of course Wood Green High Road and Alexandra Park. At that time I was working for Tottenham Libraries so I worked in all the branch libraries as well as Wood Green Library, which was an old building opposite the tube station with the Record Library upstairs and the Children’s Library in the stone basement. I lived in Wood Green from the time when I was born to the time I left home for the bright lights of err Fulham and Notting Hill.
After that you joined Robert Fripp and Ian McDonald to form a band that would later become King Crimson. You seem to be the catalyst for legendary partnerships. How would you like to work in the bookshop on Saturdays?
Catalyst,yes, funny that. It appears to be that with hindsight, I wasn’t aware of it at the time though. Just went from one set of musicians to another. Fab set of musicians though weren’t they? I have been very fortunate in the people I have played with, and the newer ones look set to continue the trend. Dear me that sounds very big-headed doesn’t it?
Work in the bookshop ? I’d love to, but the books would never be the same after I’d hidden them in corners to read and dropped coffee all over them. You’d have to sell them as second hand. I could sign them I suppose, that might add 2p on to the value..
You grew up in Wood Green and even worked in the library here (unfortunately the old library has gone, replaced by Library mk. II in the seventies). What do remember about the area?
I probably remember things that are totally gone now. We lived in a prefab in White Hart Lane when I was little, my mother was a nursing auxillery at the North Middlesex Hospital, my father worked as a carpenter for the Water Board along the New River, mending gates and suchlike. I remember the Wonderloaf bakery and the rubbish dump, St Michael’s Primary School in Bounds Green Road and the long walk there and back and later, when we moved to Crescent Rise, waiting for the trolley bus to take us home. That’s when I started to wear spectacles, I couldn’t see the bus numbers and kept getting on the wrong bus home…
I remember feeding the pigeons at Spouters Corner and when the brand new Civic Centre was opened. All glass and open plan. I remember shopping for records and cheap makeup in Woolworths and listening to the latest singles in the booth in the record shop (amazing how many giggling schoolgirls you could cram into one of those booths..) I remember Saturday Morning Pictures at the Gaumont (‘Hoppity Goes to Town’ and black and white ‘Superman’ and a ‘B’ movie) and the talent contests that also used to take place there. My mother entered me into one of them, I suppose I was about 7 years old, playing piano and singing ‘Beautiful Bells’. I didn’t win but Mum bought me a beautiful green plastic handbag that was my pride and joy for ages till it disintegrated. I could go on and on…….
You moved out of London and pretty much stopped performing for 29 years. What was it that drew you back into it?
Accident as usual. That and saying ‘Yes’ without thinking. There is always a huge sense of anti-climax after playing the big anniversary years at the Cropredy Festival, and 2002 was no different. Monday morning there I was back in the library in Bicester. Stamping out books and getting inky and watching people walking around in Fairport T-shirts with my name written on the back. So when I had a telephone call from Talking Elephant Records, saying that Marc Swordfish from trance dance band Astralasia wanted to sample my voice, I thought, it might be an interesting thing to do. I was so out of music at that time I had no idea even what ‘sampling’ was all about. So I said yes and one thing led to another and there I was four years later with three albums out in the world and lots of new things to say ‘yes’ to…
I remember e-mailing you to ask what your favourite book was when you were a child as part of the National Children’s Book Week last year. (It was Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea). As you grew up have there been other memorable books and if so what were they?
The books I remember reading as a child were the Andrew Lang Fairy books, Blue, Orange, Rose etc, My sisters and I devoured them. The Margot Pardoe ‘Bunkle’ books, they were another favourite, As I grew older it was the science fiction of Philip K Dick, Brian Aldiss, Roger Zelazny and those brilliant anthologies of short stories
of SF writers, I’ve still got quite a few of them. Then Brian Patten’s poetry, I was lucky in that he lived next door in Notting Hill (before it was expensive and trendy!) and I used to look after his typewriter. He left me a poem which I recently set to music on my Enchanted Garden album. I love his poems. After that, well, I just read everything. That’s why I went back to work in the library. So I could borrow as many books as I liked and not pay fines (grin!)
Have you ever thought of writing an autobiography. You’ve got so much more to say than Chantelle or Charlotte Church. You could hold the launch at the bookshop.
Well I do keep starting and then I get sidetracked and end up going down odd streams of memories. I’ve thought of some really good titles though. ‘The Perils of Saying Yes Without Thinking’ or ‘The Day I Fell Down A Drain’ (I thought that one up when I actually did fall down a drain )
I think I need a biographer, then I could just write everything down as I remember it and they’d have the job of organising it and checking whether I’d made it up or not. One day I will…..and I’d certainly hold the launch at your bookshop. Can we have jelly and ice-cream please?
Of course you can have Jelly and Ice-cream. Finally what’s next for Judy Dyble.
Next on the list is hopefully the Judy Dyble Band (falls over giggling). Sounds good doesn’t it? I’m writing more songs and I hope to be recording them later in the year. But first I have to go up to Bedale in Yorkshire for the launch of the single on the Ist of March, and sing with the Conspirators. I get really panicky about singing ‘live’, it’s not something I enjoy, but because the band are so lovely, I think it will be fine. And anyway it’s only two songs isn’t it? 6 minutes total? I can do that! Oh heck! And after that? Well someone will say ‘Jude -would you like to…?’ and I’ll be off down another strange byway that I hadn’t even considered..
Thanks so much for taking the time to do this.
It’s been a real pleasure. I hope I haven’t waffled too much !!
So, there you go. If you want to listen to some of Judy's stuff you can go to one of these places here, here or here.
So the single is One Sure Thing and it's out on March 3rd.
Happy Birthday Judy Dyble
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
So, this morning after a number (8) of phone calls, we finally got the information we wanted to hear. Our solicitor has the money!!
'So, that means we can exchange then, does it?'
'Oh yes, that's right'
'so when should that be sorted out by'
'should be in ten days'
TEN DAYS. TEN DAYS . Take into consideration that the people who are in the shop at the moment want to move out immediately (so immediately, that they are leaving all the computers, printers, and pretty much everything else as part of our agreement), also all the paperwork's been done, and there's nothing left for us to sign. It's just a meatter of transferring money from one accout to another and for the people to leave the shop. TEN DAYS
do you know what you could do in ten days?
You could boil 3600 eggs
you could watch 160 football matches
you could watch all 411 Simpsons episodes and still have time to watch every episode of Futurama 4 times
you could travel by Eurostar from King's Cross to Paris and back over 54 times
you could listen to Demis Roussos singing 'Forever and Ever' 4145 times
you could watch The Neverending Story 153 times
Paula Radcliffe could have run the London Marathon 104 times
Our baby will have grown over a centimetre
Dwain Chambers could run 60metres 131272 times (he probably could but don't ask him for a urine sample afterwards)
You could have 240 sets of photos developed in Snappy snaps
my printer can print 115520 letters asking everyone to hurry up
If I'd phoned Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway (last year of course) and tried non-stop to 'win the ads' it would have cost me £14,440
We will have paid £271 of our mortgage
TEN DAYS.....I ask you?
Monday, February 11, 2008
having been distracted a little by faxes, idiots and lost letters recently, Tim and I met up today to go through everything we'd done and/or needed doing before we get the keys and soon after. I'll give you a few just so you get the idea:
- SHOPSIGN. finalise quote, and ensure that delivery is still within 14 days
- SHOPFLOOR PLAN. revist and make any final changes. Double check we have the correct number of bookcases (full size, half size, half width and different colour) ready to order
- WEBSITE. make sure that the geezer who's doing it is aware what we need and by when
- SKIP. order for day one
- TELEPHONE / BROADBAND. check installation date and find out how soon we can get a phone number
- INSURANCE. it's sorted
- PDQ. they need a phone number before this can be sorted out. Chase up phone provider
- BAGS. 100% recycled paper bags. Buy them plain, and price up a rubber stamp with the logo on it.
- CARPETS. check out in the shop what we need (we think it's now going to be a carpet rather than carpet tiles), to get for day 3 of refit.
- ORDERS. make a list of all the names and phone numbers of the poeple who we've sent an order to, to ensure we can let them know when to release it
- BERTRAMS. finalise date for installation of stock control system etc.
- NEWSLETTER. fianlise template for weekly/monthly newsletter
- INVITATIONS TO THE OPENING PARTY. (remember we're tiny) get a list of people to invite.
- MARCH/APRIL NEW TITLES. check through to make sure that's finished.
- COMPETITION WINNER. make sure we let the 'name the bookshop' competition winner know when we're opening.
- LICENCES. check we know what licences we need in the shop (music etc)
there was lots of other small stuff as well , and also one other thing that we thought we'd post on here, to see if anyone could help.
We're going to need a van for a few days (probably 5). We wondered if anyone knew someone who knew someone who had one that we could comandeer. We'll write lovely things about you (and your company if you like), and imagine the feeling you'll have inside, knowing that you've been a part of this wunnerful thing called The Big Green Bookshop. You can email me or reply on here if you like, and we really would be grateful.
Gawd bless you all.
I realised last night that today marked six months since the waterstone's in Wood Green closed its doors for the last time. Half a year...
It's been a long old time since the catalyst for the Big Green Bookshop, er catalysed. Longer than we'd hoped, that's for sure. But it's only a matter of weeks before there will finally be a bookshop in Wood Green again.
Tim spoke to our solicitor this morning and told him the money was going to hit his account sometime today. The solicitor was 'delighted' and said he'd keep a keen eye on the bank account online( i imagine him sitting in his office, watching the money rolling in on the computer, and laughing maniacally as he rubs his hands together with glee). Apparently we don't need to see him to exchange, as we've already signed everything we need to, so me and Tim are meeting in about 30 minutes time to go through every detail of the plan to get the shop open (insurance, carpets, telephones, books, bags, etc etc).
I hope we haven't forgotten anything.
It's another gloriously sunny day in Wood Green, and i've got some potatoes in the oven, This I hasten to add, is not a euphemism, I really do have some potatoes in the oven.
we're living like kings............
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Not a lot's changed since Friday. I've changed my socks, and I've changed channels on the TV. Oh, and I've changed the batteries in my camera. But that's all.
Looking forward to this week being rather exciting. There's a few things going on which are worth a mention.
One of my good friends, Mark Farley (the bookseller to the stars no less) is having a short story published in this here bookAn ideal Valentine's present, if you're feeling saucy! It's also a good way to support a small indie publisher. Filthy books.. the gift that keeps on giving.
On Wednesday i'll be putting up a special post for fans of Fairport Convention. It encompasses Music, Books and Wood Green in one fell swoop! (I had to look up what one fell swoop meant out of curiosity. William 'Shakey' Shakespeare used it in Macb...the Scottish play. It was from a description of the way a bird of prey seems to fall out of the sky to kill it's victim. 'Fell Swoop' you see.) Not to be missed.
Also my first review for the second biggest music magazine in London is going to be published online this week, which pessonally, i'm really chuffed about.
I have mentioned a couple of times in the last month, about a book which has blown my mind, and which I think is going to do amazing things. It's being published in a few days time and I was lucky enough to meet (via the world in the internet) the authour. I interviewed him and he's hopefully going to come and visit us in the next couple of weeks, as he's down (or up) in London to do some shameless marketing. I told him of the delighful pubs we have in Wood Green, and he didn't seem put off a bit. Anyway, I'm going to put the interview on the blog this week as well.
I'm sure there was something else... something about a key....it can't be that important.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Blimey, we might have a bookshop soon....
Tim has gone to see our business advisor at the bank to sign a piece of paper.
The fax has arrived at our bank. They now have everything they need.
they need to verify one detail with our solicitor (I hope they don't just leave a message for him). So as soon as they've done that we've got the dosh.
and then we can buy a shop
and then we can make it into a bookshop
and then we can sell books to people who want to read books
and then we can pay the bank back the dosh
piece of cake
Ladies and Gentlemen, for your amusement, allow me to introduce
To prevent frustration from knocking me down, stamping on my head and gouging my eyes out with a blunt pencil, and to keep what's left of my sanity intact (I have myself brain washed on a regular basis, and always dry off with a sanity towel) I have devised a two little games - with the help of my oldest son George (who I am not allowed to mention)
Below you will find a list of tasks and a list of emotions. Even further down you will find six pictures....
Game 1; match the emotion to the face.
Game 2; match the task to the hat. It's as simple as that.
You should end up with a list that goes a bit like.... Hard Hat - Elation - phoning the solicitor.
Remember to write these down on a piece of paper, and leave it lying around your workplace to confound your colleagues.
1) Frustration (music on hold does not make holding more pleasurable)
2) Elation (I look forward to feeling this again)
3) Mild irritation (Doesn't anybody respond to a message)
5) Happiness (Not Happyness - thank you Will Smith)
6) That mixture of irritation and frustration that can only be caused by spending the entire day running just to end up exactly where you started.
1) Phoning the solicitor
2) Phoning the first bank
3) Phoning the small business advisor
4) Phoning the first bank for the second, third, fourth, fifth (ad infinitum) time
5) Phoning the solicitor
6) Phoning Simon to try to explain why nobody wants to do what I want them to do, when I don't really understand myself why nobody wants to do what I want them to do.
Here are the pictures
Georgous, aren't I, and I am available for modelling (clay or airfix)
Thursday, February 07, 2008
We can do no more today.
All we want to do is sell books.....
Tim only had to wait about 20 minutes before the fax came through at the branch. He's now taken it to our solicitor (who was with a client), who will now be able to proceed with the next stage. Telling our bank. Once our bank are told, they can release the dosh and we can sort out an exchange date. This is the situation as far as I understand it, but let's not get too hasty.Tim's already phoned our bank and got them on standby, and he's phoning the estate agents right now, just to keep them in the picture.
And so we wait for further developments...
OK, so the 4 faxes didn't turn up, and the letters that were posted on Friday and Monday are neither here nor there. So let's regroup.
Tim has spoken to the people in Leeds again and they can (they say) fax a copy to a branch of their fine establishment. It so happens that there's a branch immediately next door to our solicitor's office, so Tim's put on two jumpers, filled a thermos and taken two thick books with him up to this branch. The theory is he can wait there in front of a human being whilst they get the form faxed over. He won't leave until it happens. He can then take it next door to our solicitor and stand over him until he does what he has to do with it.
Failing this, the return fare to Leeds is £80 and it takes just over 2 hours for each trip.
He's got his mobile on him, so i'll keep in touch with him for regular updates.
Thanks to everyone for the support. It really does help.
9.00am I have a sore head, but a strong heart. Tim told me that if necessary he would take a train to Leeds today to pick up this document, but let's hope we don't have to do that.
We have alternative fax numbers around London to give out if we have to and there are a couple of other options (before a train journey) that we'll try if this doesn't work.
I'll try and keep you informed as we 'progress'
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
And now Tim's gone AWOL. If anyone sees him could they let him know the fax hasn't arrived yet.
I found him.
Having chased it up again, it was apparently faxed 3 hours ago. They're faxing it again now, so within a matter of minutes all the pieces of paper should be at all the right places.
3.40pm still no fax, even though it's 'definitely' been faxed twice today at least. I phoned the solicitors, and gleaned 3 interesting facts
1. Our solicitor has gone home sick
2. There's been a mechanic working on the fax machine for thelast half an hour
3. They have a second fax machine
I phone Tim on his mobile (he's on the landline trying to get through to the people with the fax) and give him the third piece of information. He's going to try that
The lovely Christine (our solicitor's secretary) will phone me if/when it arrives, but she's going home at 4pm.
More news as it happens
4.12pm still no fax. Christine has gone home, and so after another call to our solicitors I have someone on fax watch between now and 5pm. If anything arrives I'll be getting a call. They have my landline, my mobile, my e-mail address, and also a carrier pigeon is on standby.
Just so you know, of all the painful days that Tim and I have been through, I think this one is the most painful. The feeling of utter disbelief and helplessness is beyond anything else we've experienced. Even worse than these little beauties
- the lost contract posted in October, that was only chased up a week before xmas
- the 17 day xmas holiday our solicitor enjoyed
- the forms that were sent to Glasgow, instead of Birmingham, which were then sent to Birmingham only to be sent back to Glagow again.
- The things that couldn't be faxed because an original was needed and then all of a sudden a fax is fine.
- The 4 letters (so far) that have been lost in the post.
I'm actually in pain today.
There's not even any question about it. This fax is GOING to arrive with our solicitor today. Tim phoned up this morning, and it was still absent without leave. He chased it up with the people who were supposed to send it and found out they had the wrong fax number. Well of course they did. Of course they would have. These are the same people who told Tim they'd posted it on Friday and Monday. Well excuse my french, but this is a load of old bollocks.
We've had enough of this and Tim's got back in touch with someone who 'seemed' to understand the bollocksness of it. The fax should arrive with our solicitor in the next 2 hours. It will arrive today. Oh yes..oh yes indeed.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
I'm looking for a book, I wonder if you can get it for me? It's by a guy called John Healy and it's called The Grass Arena. It's the autobiography of this guy who was a boxer who turned to drink and then the booze took over his life and he ended up on the street for 15 years. During one of his prison spells he was introduced to chess, and it changed his life. It seems he was an absolute genius at it and it kind of turned his life around.
About 8 years ago a fine fellow called Andy Walker (who I've unfortunately lost touch with), suggested I read it. It was out of print then, but apparently it's now available through a publisher called Kingpin. Here's the ISBN 9780955551208.
I'd really like to read the book (and stock it in the shop) as I understand it's a bit of a gem. Is it distributed by anyone out there?
loyal readers will remember fondly this blast from the past!
Yes, that's right. The competition we had to name the bookshop. 500 entries, amusing evening in pub deciding winner, choosing The Big Green Bookshop a name.
Well, it seems that Haringey (the borough in which Wood Green sits) is opening a new secondary school in 2010, and look what they're doing.
We're going to push hard for The Big Green Secondary School. I think it's got a nice ring to it. And before anyone asks, it won't just admit environmentally aware children.
I've also entered a competition to name a park here in Wood Green. Guess what my suggestion was?
The Big Green Space.
It's all about brand awareness isn't it.
The solicitor's still waiting for the fax. Tim chased it up this morning. Here are some of todays claims.
'It was posted on Friday'
3 minutes later
'It was posted on Monday'
Tim; 'but you said you would be faxing it'
'ooh yes, so we did. I'll make sure we do that'
Todays favourite lyric from my neverending playlist
ART BRUT from the song Pump Up the Volume
I know i shouldn't, but is it so wrong,
to break from a kiss, to turn up a pop song
this, from the band that brought you
I was your boyfriend when we were 15, it's the happiest i've ever been,
even though we didn't understand how to do much more than just hold hands
lovely bittersweet spiky pop/punk. Lovely lovely Art Brut.
Monday, February 04, 2008
in the absence of a shop made of bricks, The Big Green Bookshop ebay site is up and running. And look at these precious exclusive things that you can buy!!
WOW, i hear you say. But wait, that's not all. You'll get a signed official TBGB certificate of authentication with your badge, so in years to come, when The Big Green Bookshop is bigger than Wall-mart (but still lovely of course), you'll be able to sell it on ebay again for a fortune!
alternatively you could wear it.
Here we go again then. I've just tried to get through to Tim (sometimes, there's no getting through to him), and he's obviously on the phone to our solicitor.
Tim's just phoned me. He was on the phone to our solicitor.
Today is going to be one of those waiting days. This fax will either arrive with the solicitor today or tomorrow (or never, obviously), and then it's up to our bank to release the money.
So in the meantime...
I've done another article for an online magazine called transitiontradition, about the bookshop.
I'm loving this book at the moment.
It's aimed at children, but so what. It starts in 1589, and our hero has just found out his Mum's a witch and she has a talking cat that can help him travel through time. As he does so, he discovers sinister goings on, and begins to try and unravel who's behind them. It's written in short chapters, so it would be brilliant to read to kids before bed, the characters are realistic and the story goes along at a fantastic pace. Great fun.
Tomorrow I shall be discussing Tolstoi's prevarication for contemplating the three stages of man in his literature, but let's stick to rollicking kid's books for the time being.
Me and Tim are finalising the design for our uniform today, as this will obviously help us in recommending backlist to our customers. Any thoughts?
Friday, February 01, 2008
This opening a bookshop thing seems to be taking forever. You may be wondering what the heckin flip we're doing. Well today pretty much sums up the kind of thing we've been trying to deal with since the beginning.
Cast your minds back (or scroll down) to just yesterday, when I said that there's a fax that'll be sent to our solicitors in the next 48 hours. OK, we were given that information on Wednesday, but I was hedging my bets. The whole story is that on Monday our solicitor faxed this document to these people for approval. They also asked for £100 as an admin charge (don't ask), which he sent at the same time. When Tim phoned them up on Wednesday he was told that the cheque had arrived and that 'the approval would be faxed back within 48 hours'.
OK, it's Friday now, and so 48 hours has passed. Tim called our solicitor (who was ill), and his secretary told him no fax had arrived. So Tim calls these people to find out where it is.
'Oh, we haven't sent it yet,
'why, pray tell' asked Tim
'well we haven't had the £100 yet. You see you have to pay an adm..'
'I WAS TOLD ON WEDNESDAY THAT YOU HAD IT'
'I don't know why you were told that,
so after speaking to supervisors etc, Tim then had to call our solicitor again to find out if there was any reference for the cheque. Two messages and 2 hours later he finally managed to get the cheque number.
He is now on the phone to these people again, trying to find out what's going on.
Before you ask, Tim did take someone's name on Wednesday, but they aren't there, of course.
Have a look at this wall
Now imagine two hairy, tired and frustrated people in North london banging their heads against it.
It's no real surprise. It's by no means the first time this has happened, but I just thought you'd like a small taster of the kind of things we're having to deal with.
Oh yeah, this approval was originally requested over 50 days ago.
It's Friday though and the sun is shining. So what the hey....
In my youth I was fond of a bit of a head-bang..... Not so much now.... I am on hold to a large ex-building Society as I type. I have spent most of today on hold. They have possibly the worst music-on-hold that I have ever heard. I know Simon has given you the outline of the phone conversations, but I thought you might like a little less detail.
(for the purposes of this piece, I shall refer to each phone call as a Head Bang)
Head Bang 1 Wednesday. On hold for 17mins 35secs. Cheque there? Yes. Documents released? No. Please release them. OK. Total phone 35mins
Head Bang 2 Friday Am. On hold 14mins 59secs. Documents released? No. Why not? Not paid for. Paid for on Wednesday!!! Not according to records, cheque number please. Total phone 45mins 8secs
Head Bang 3 Friday Am. (to solicitors' secretary) No hold time. Cheque No please. I will call you back. Total phone 5 mins plus change.
Head Bang 4 Friday Am, 20mins later. (to solicitors' secretary) No hold time. Cheque No please. She will call you back. Total phone 2 mins plus change.
Head Bang 5 Friday Am, 20mins later. (to solicitors' secretary) No hold time. Cheque No please. She's got your file now and will call you back. Total phone 3 mins plus change.
Head Bang 6 Friday Am, 5mins later. (from solicitors' secretary) No hold time (although I was tempted to humm a few bars to her) Cheque No. Thank you. Total phone who cares not my bill.
Head Bang 7 Friday Am, 1 min later. On hold 14mins 25secs. Hello, can you hear me?. Can't hear you, will terminate call. No! No! No! Dear god. What the.... Total call 14mins 55secs.
Head Bang 7 Friday Pm. On hold 12mins 15secs. Have cheque no, please release documents. Cheque no no good, sort code please. Are you taking the.... Total phone 30mins 45secs
Brief respite from head banging to receive advice and solace from Simon. Cheque no no good, unbelievable. need sort code. Have sort code. Really. Yes.
Head Bang 8 Friday Pm. On hold 25mins 9secs. Cheque no, sort code AND account no Cheque Cleared. Release documents? Yes. How long? five working days. FIVE WORKING DAYS!?!
Soon I will discuss in detail the meaning of Customer Service. Not now as I am beating myself over the head with the keyboard. hy76 g;GHQEg