Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Yeah Baby...Yeah!!


I'm back at the shop, and it's doing great. But what have we missed? Here's a thing or two that are interesting.

thing 1. Mister Mark Farley has decided to end his blog. Bookseller to the Stars was one of the first 4 blogs I looked at every morning. He was inspired sometimes, he was outrageous once in a while, he was a knob occasionally, but I always knew that he wrote from the heart. I will miss his daily meditations.

thing 2. I am another year older. Although technically i'm just a day older than I was the day before, but we like to compartmentalise these things don't we? Here's a cake what I got.

thing 3. There are a few new books that I like very much. The Grass Arena by John Healy
Reissued in the last day or two, this is a wonderful autobiography written in the 80's about a homeless guy who spent 15 years living rough, and found a form of escape by learning to play chess whilst in prison. His writing is so honest and stark, (and beautiful) and I suggest you phone us up and order a copy, or e-mail us. After all it was us who told you about it. Alternatively you could go to your local indie, and hope they have a copy.

Promise Not To Tell by Jennifer McMahon
I think this is going to sell a few copies, and I hope we can do it justice in the shop.

and here's a real hit for Summer.
£12.99 and it's yours. It's lovely..

thing 4. here's a picture of Freya

thing 5. Followers of this blog might be aware I like a flutter. It's hit and miss usually, but recently i've been doing rather well. If you look back to July 8th, you'll see that I gave you all a tip on the Tour De France, which has just finished. It was a brilliant tour and Carlos Sastre (I call him carlos ashtray for some reason), fully deserved to win. He took 2 minutes out of his rivals on stage 17 of the tour and although nobody expected him to hold on to his lead during the time trials, he was inspired and I'm delighed. The other bet i put on recently was on Ian Poulter each way in the Open Golf. He was 80/1 so although I hoped he'd win, I still got odd's of 20/1 for him finishing second.
Anyway a few months ago a fellow by the name of Scott Pack posted predictions for who would win or draw 8 football matches that were on that night. He likes a gamble... All 8 of them were correct, and I suggested to him he should add a thing on the blog with a daily/weekly tip to amuse/bore his readers. As he hasn't done this yet, and as I think it might be interesting, I shall take it upon myself to put a weekly tip on this blog on an event happening that week. Take it with a pinch of salt, and remember kids, Gambling's Stupid, but I think we're doing well enough in the shop for me to invest a quid or two on some nonsense. You never know, we might end up as millionaires.
There's an attachment thing on the right with this weeks prediction.

Thing 6. Last week was the busiest week we've had in the shop....ever.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Big Green Wednesday First Eleven


No we have not entered the world of the premier league.... Just yet.

This post is really just a big thank-you to all the people who have made Big Green Wednesday a huge success.

For those of you who don't know (and for those who do know, but have just forgotten... No, I mean it. I know exactly what you're talking about... No, I think you explain it much better) Big Green Wednesday happens every Wednesday during term time. The shop is shut from 9.30 to 10.30am and we have a class from a local school come to meet a - hopefully - suitable author. It is simplicity itself, and it works. A good time is had by one and all.

Right then, to the role call. (I am sure Simon could put clever links in, and pictures and stuff, but that's just cause he's smarterer than what I am)

First up was the lovely Fiona Dunbar. as this was our first one, we didn't really know what to expect. But Fiona took control, and the kids of West Green primary had a lovely time.

Second was the mad-genius that is Sam Enthoven. Now this time the students of Noel Park had been prepared by their teacher, the legendary Mr Stephen Pearce, and the questions started before they'd even sat down. "How many words do you write a day?..." "How much money do you make?..." "How many books are you going to write?..." "What colour are your socks?..." (I may have made that last one up.) Sam dealt with them all in his own inimitable - slightly over-enthusiastic, yet truly lovable - way. And everybody had a lovely time.

Then came the slightly scary Catherine Johnson (Scary in a really gorgeous way...)She encouraged more Noel Parkers to think about nasty things in envelopes - severed fingers, bits of ear and the like. Shivery stuff, but we all had a lovely time.

After Catherine came the first of our first time authors. Inbali Iserles - who is quite scrumptious. She bravely met with two schools, Campsbourne and Alexandra Primary. Cat stories abounded, and yes, everybody had a lovely time.

Then the absolutely fantastic Karen McCombie arrived in a whirl of flying crisps, and entertained - and educated - the girls from Downhills Primary. Karen is arguable the most prolific of our Big Green Wednesdayers. With Karen in charge you can bet we had a lovely time.

Could it get any better??? Well no, not better. But just as good...

Keeping our standards high, we were visited by the amazing Echo Freer. She died, you know. Actually died.... and then became an author. How amazing is that. Echo met with the first of our secondary schools. St Thomas More, accompanied by the fantabulous Sabrina Elliot. School Librarian extra-ordinaire, learning mentor and all round good egg (I'm not sure what her exact title is) Anyway. Echo held us all enthralled with her life and books and stuff, and you better believe we had a lovely time. Oh yes.

Potentially one of the funniest visits we had was with ex-liverpudlian turned aussie Martin Chatterton. Who came to meet some Highgate Wooders (My old school) and some home educated kids. I haven't laughed so hard in ages. But with most really funny things it loses something when you write it down. So I'm not going to. You'll just have to take it from me that he was hilarious, and that we had that lovely time that I keep going on about.

Then we had Joe Friedman, who had the kids of St Michaels put on silly hats, and speak in silly accents. Even Simon joined in with his rendition of a Shi-kaa-go (Chicago - which I pronounce She-Car-go as I am terribly posh) accent. And - do you know what? We had a lovely time.

As if that wasn't enough the following Wednesday we had the smashing Sally Nichols. Who talked, cheerfully about death and the afterlife (if any)to the year sixers of Camsbourne (Including my son, George, who I am not allowed to talk about)Deeply philosophical stuff. And - I have it on good authority (the aforementioned George) - that everybody had a lovely time.

Our penultimate Big Green Wednesdayer was the effervescent Jonny Zucker who fights it out (metaphorically) with Karen as - potentially - the most prolific author, and with Martin as - potentially - the funniest. He did magic... actual magic. Well I believed it , anyway. He stole ideas gratuitously from the children of Rhodes Avenue Primary. Who had a really really lovely time.

You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned any of the books that these guys have written. Well this is intentional. I am saying thank-you to the authors for their time and enthusiasm. That's all. Well.. er.. that is. Well there has to be an exception to the rule, and here it is.

Our final Big Green Wednesday Author is Gentleman James Dunn. Whose book 'ABC UK' is just beautiful. It's an ABC book, about the U.K. Simple ideas are always the best. James spent a lot of his time with Alexandra Primary looking surprised at the inventiveness of the children, who had worked on their own ABC UK (S is for Sandles. British people like wearing sandles) We all genuinely had a lovely time, and we will be launching a competition based on the book.... watch this space...

Anyway. Thank you to all the Authors, Kids, Teachers, Teaching Assistants, Parents, Marketing Depts, Publicity People and Miscellaneous Lovely Types who have made Big Green Wednesdays just the loveliest days in the whole week.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Stop Hogging a Blog About a Bookshop with stuff about your baby...


This is the last post about our lovely daughter (I doubt).

We have chosen to call her Freya Mabel Key. She won't thank us, but we love it.

She's started sleeping now.

We will soon.

I expect the bookshop's doing OK. I went in to open up this morning, and apparently we had a good day yesterday. We also got a nice big order from....
...this is my daughter. Nothing else matters at the moment.

Sausages for tea tonight.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

News from Home


at 5.21am yesterday Katie and I became proud parents of a baby girl.
She weighed in at 7lbs 6oz, and Katie wanted me to stress that giving birth really really hurts. So don't let anyone tell you different.
When we got to the hospital on Thursday at about 7.00pm, there was organised chaos. One woman was giving birth in a car outside and another had collapsed throwing up in the waiting room. However, everyone at the Whittington was brilliant, and we were treated wonderfully well.

We haven't quite decided yet what to call her. And i've been banned from having a 'name that baby' competition on the blog, so don't ask.

Things we have learned so far.

1. I can write a blog despite having had 2 hours sleep in the last 50 hours
2. Babies cry a lot. Especially when there's no-one else around
3. Babies cry a lot and have no concept of night and day.
4. Babies cry a lot and sometimes for no reason that you can tell.
5. It's amazing how beautiful something that looks like a mini version of William Hague really is.

6. we are incredibly happy.

Her feet are a bit squashed up, where she's been using Katie as a kickbag for the last few months, and we have to see an orthopaedist about them in a week or so, but they'll probably point in the right direction by the time she takes up ballet, or whatever two week old baby girls do, so it's nothing to worry about.

And she sneezes in a very cute way.

And finally, here are the two stars of the show..


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Things That are Pleasing Me


1. The Tour De France.

what an epic event this is. I took a week off work once so I could sit on my lazy arse, and watch it live on Eurosport. I'm really pleased that I can watch the highlights on a channel that i can get. To be honest, i'm not surprised that the whole sport is riddled with drug taking scandals. If I had to cycle 3500 kms in 21 stages over 3 weeks at an average of around 40 kmh, i'd have to be on drugs to consider it.
The majority of the cyclists are completely clean, and I am in total awe of what they can achieve. My money is on Carlos Sastre, but it's probably the most open race in many many years.

2. Snuff-Box

the funniest thing on DVD for a long long time. Hurrah. Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher combined make funny ha ha stuff. Buy it from somewhere independent tomorrow!
A Clip

3. Our Facebook group

we're 6 short of 500 now. It's a good place to find out about what's going on in the shop, and also we give people free books every now and then. But you have to join in with all our nonsense. It's a two way street...

4. Our Customers

I love the fact that every day at least 20 people ask me about Katie and my impending parenthood. It's a great feeling to know that after only 4 months, the shop has built this kind of relationship with our customers. So far we've been offered (amongst other things) clothes, a pram, a cot, a moses basket, and dozens of toys. Someone dropped in a knitted cardigan the other day, someone is doing an embroidered bib for us, and today one of our lovely customers offered to work for nothing in the shop while I took some time off after the birth. I am at this moment sitting on one of those big bouncy balls (swiss balls?) that Katie has been lent to ease that pregnant/back/posture thing. Yes, I know I shouldn't be sitting on it, but it's so comfy.
I love our customers and I love Wood Green. Thanks.

5. This Book

so far i've spotted 18 posters aroound Wood Green. Well done chaps.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

To Whom It May Concern


1. To the person in the department of the organization that starts with C-O-U and ends C-I-L , who i've now spoken to 3 times about this, and who don't seem to understand the concept of turning a street sign round to face the direction of the road.
'but i've walked past the end of your road and I can't see the problem'

The problem is that I'd like the sign that says Brampton Park Road to point up the road where our shop is. Namely, Brampton Park Road. Not along the High Road. The High Road being the road we aren't allowed to stand on wearing a T shirt bearing the words 'Big Green Bookshop' whilst pointing up Brampton Park Road at the same time.

To those of you who've been putting the posters up in your windows (etc!). Thanks, they look great. Feel free to pass these posters on to your friends and neighbours to put up in their windows (etc). No photos yet, but I've seen about a dozen of these up around Wood Green, and I hear rumour of one on it's way to the Caribbean. Here's the poster again,. Just click on it and press print, put up and think of the good you're doing. Just think, by doing this simple act you could help to clothe and feed a child in Wood Green, when she's born (due last Thursday, but still very cosy and in no hurry to appear, in case you were wondering)

I hear that you get lots of comments and visits if you put a picture of a pretty little kitty cat on your blog so here we are. What a cutie.

Shop was a bit quiet yesterday. School fetes, local carnivals, bloody tennis.
But we've had some lovely school orders recently so... lovely schools. Well done, keep it up.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

It's The Big Green Bookshop Poster Competition


Hello my lovely friends all around the world, and also those of you in Hull. We have a new competition where you can win prizes. Quite good prizes too(but more about that when we've thought of them).
Here are the rules.

1. Print this poster(click on the poster and then it'll get bigger. Then press print and in theory it should print out).

2. Put it somewhere like on the eiffel tower, the statue of liberty, on your dog or maybe even in your window.

3. Take a photo of it and send the picture to us on our email (

we will then put it on our gallery of fame (which will be a link on the side of the blog).

the best 5 will be put to the public vote and the winner will win a lovely prize.

the lovely council have scuppered our attempts to advertise on the High Road (the main road that our shop is off). We started off by asking if there was any funding available to advertise the bookshop after it won the council's New Business of the Year award. The answer so far has been no, despite many phonecalls and emails. We then made a 'Golf Sale' type sign, saying 'Big Green Bookshop, this way' and sat on a barstool on the HIgh Road for an afternoon. Miraculously it worked extremely well, so we did it again. This time a 'Street Enforcer' came along and told us that we couldn't do this. Quite understandably probably...
Anyway, then I emailed the council asking if I could do any of the following
1. Wear a T shirt saying Big Green Bookshop and point up the road (NO)
2. Walk around with the sign, so as not to be a hazard (NO)
3. Put an A sign up on the High Road (No)
4. Stick the sign on the top of the fruit and veg stall at the end of the road (NO)
5. Pay for a sign to be put up on the High Road (yes £1600 a year)

OK, so not too good so far.

We then put some of or lovely balloons up on a lamp-post at the end of the road. We were careful not to cover any of information on the lamppost and we made sure it was well above head height so as not to get in anyone's way.
We got a phone call yesterday from the street enforcment office. they told us if we didn't take the balloons down we will be fined.

This is the street that has just opened it's 12th betting establishment in a space of 800metres.

So in our familiar style, we're asking you a favour.
Could you print this poster off and put it up in a window, or anywhere else you think might enlighten the wonderful people of Haringey who don't know about us.

Please take a photo, or email us with the location and we'll add you to the hall of fame.

I have this dream that all around Haringey, in a way similar to the Mayoral Elections, there'll be posters in hundreds of windows saying 'I Buy My Books From The Big Green Bookshop'.

I'll put one or two up over the next few days just to start the ball rolling, but let's see how we get on!

Subtle as a brick.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

3 Quick Things About Our Shop


1. Here's our fiction table

2. Here's our non fiction table

I hope theres's something for everyone!

But if not there's always the gift that keeps on giving.

3. The Big Green Bookshop proudly presents
our very own vouchers. Aren't they lovely?