Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wood Green turns into Venice

Sunday just gone was a lovely lovely day. Wood Green High Road, officially the second busiest street in London behind Oxford Street (always the bridesmaid...), was deemed a car free day for the second time since cars existed, I think. And it was bloomin' ace.

Look at the joy on the faces of the people walking...not on the pavement.. but on the road instead!!

We had a stall, which meant for the first time since we opened, the council allowed us to advertise on the High Road, without threats of fines or legal action. So we made the most of it...

Our sales more than doubled on the day, and we introduced lots and lots of new people to the shop. The stall was in the perfect spot, so when anyone walked past and I yelled hello at them, and introduced the shop, the usual response was, 'but where is it ?'. All I had to do was point and all they had to do was turn around and there we are!!

It benefitted from being a dreamy sunny day, and I suspect this car free day was something of a political experiment into doing this a bit more often. Us traders love it, but us residents who live on the roads that the cars go down if they don't go down the High Road hate it. OOOOhh what a dilemma.

If I could, I'd make London resident car free all the time, forever. Isn't that what investing on good public transport should be all about? Think how lovely it would be? Then all those nimbys who moan about cars going down roads near where they live and putting the value down wouldn't have to, would they. And then cars wouldn't mean as much to all those people who invest their time driving around listening to Nelly with their windows down. And then maybe...just maybe Jeremy Clarkson wouldn't be on telly any more. Surely this is worth this brave step.

I know i'm a complete luddite, but there it is. Tube, bus, bike, legs, and I reckon we could probably invest in lots more buses and a brilliant monorail too. Imagine.

Anyway, going back to the thing that I was talking about (sorry about the rant), it was lovely, and my Mum came to see us as well. Here she is with lovely Freya.Lovely Mum and lovely Freya

Here's some more pictures of Car Free dayHere's an empty High Road.

Here are some stilt type people. They are not Geri Halliwell and her personal trainers.

I would like to apologise to Kate and Georgia, who I photographed looking al thumbs up and stuff. My camera packed up and failed to download your photo. Come along to the shop and i'll take more lovely pics.

I haven't put music on this blog for blimmin ages, but this is too good to ignore

Yeti- never lose your sense of wonder
They have an album called the Legend of Yeti Gonzales. I have it and it's a good thing.

Big Green Wednesday tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Wasn't Making It Up. He really did come.

Bill Drummond phoned me up yesterday afternoon at about 4.30pm

'hello, is that Simon'
'It's Bill. Bill Drummond. I'm doing a talk at your shop tonight'
'I know you are...'
'can you give me your address, i'm just about to set off'

so after some clear directions and car parking advice, I put the phone down, realising i'd just chatted to Bill Drummond. He sounded like a nice chap, but it seemed he was arriving at the shop an hour and a half earlier than I'd thought.
It looked a right mess and (as it was Tim's day off) I was all by myself for another 45 minutes. After sweeping lots of books under the preverbial carpet, a tatty green landrover parks outside the shop. Out lollops a very tall, tatty man. It was clearly Bill, and we shook hands. After tea was turned down, he offered to sign some extras for the shop, and asked some questions about the shop. He's apparently looked at the blog and seems to appreciate what we're trying to do here in N22.
He IS a nice chap, I thought to myself, and intense, and slightly shy, and obviously very intelligent. He hung around for a while, but knowing he was 90 minutes early, he decided to head off into Wood Green for some food and stuff, and also to meet some chums.

'see you later, mate' I said as he lolloped off, and then cringed at myself. He's not my mate is he...I really ought to stop saying that. That and the word basically, which I tend to use far to much at the moment.

Anyway, at about 6 the first of the audience arrived (by now Tim had arrived and we'd changed the shop into it's evening attire) and I revelled in my role as doorman.

'Name?'...'lovely, in you go'

'you haven't bought a ticket? Well, you're going to have to wait outside, and we'll see if we can fit you in' (I wasn't very good at this bit.

everyone who turned up got in, and by the time Mr D came back, the shop was filling up with some very excited people. By 7pm, the place was packed and it was standing room only at the back.

Bill preferred to just come out of the back room without any fanfare, and this is what he did. No introduction.

'Hello, I'm Bill Drummond, and i'm here to talk about my new book....'

He was fascinating, and it was clear to me that there was nothing fake about him. He was passionate about latest project/book 17, (signed copies available at the shop at just £12.99), and spoke for 45 minutes about how he'd reached his conclusions about the state of music today. There's a very good write up of what Bill was saying at the Marmite Lover blog, which is, I have to say, a rather good blog.

He answered a few questions and was happy to sign everyone's books. I suspect that everyone had a rather lovely time all in all. I did.

Here's some more pictures of the evening. All the good photographs are courtesy of Mark Farley

Lovely queue

Bill in Action

Happy Bill

He headed off , but not before he asked how the shop was going, and what events we had lined up. He seemed to like the idea of the Burlesque/erotica evening we're having next Thursday (which I strongly suggest you come along to), and wished us lots of luck in the future.
Bless you Bill.

Right Haruki, when the bloody hell are you coming to see us....I'm waiting.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bill Drummond

He's coming to our shop tomorrow. It's a bit exciting really, as this is his only reading that's not in the award winning Wortastowns bookshops. It's obviously his most intimate event, and I want to say thanks to Kat at Beautiful Books for sorting this out. We talked about moving it to a bigger venue due to the demand for tickets, but I think that keeping it in the gorgeous and green surroundings of the shop is the right thing to do.
We've asked friend of the shop Mark Farley to introduce Mr Drummond, and we have the wonderful Mr Stuart Evers on door duties should it all kick off.
I'll let you know how it all went, but if you'd like a signed copy of the book please let us know.

In other news I seem to have been voted the new Chairman of the Noel Park North Area Residents Association.....seriously. I think respectability follows opening a bookshop as I was asked if i'd consider being a governor of a local school recently aswell.

We're in safe hands.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Bookshop in a Briefcase (or 2)

I spent the day at Belmont School today. We were asked if we'd like to join their Summer Fete and try and sell some books and that. Well, never one to turn an opportunity down off we went. We don't drive, so these kind of things are always a bit of a laugh to get to.
This time we decided that a couple of briefcases would do the job, so we filled them with all the fun of the fair (lots of £1.99 education books, picture flats and Mr Gum etc), and off i set. It's amazing what you can squeeze into 2 small cases, and this is how the completed table of treats looked like. Katie and Freya joined me, and this proved a great marketing ploy.
We had a lot of fun and the cakes were delicious. We also gave out loads of Big Green Bookshop Bookenier loyalty cards, and sold about a hundred quids worth of books.
I think these kinds of thing are really great for new businesses like ours. We get to show our support for a local school, we introduce ourselves to new customers, and we make a bit of money. At the same time Tim was in the shop being photographed and videoed for another schools project, so it was a really fun day for all of us.

A couple of days ago Mr and Mrs Flynn, some lovely regular customers, came in and gave us a bag of toffees and some rock. Special football rock. Regular readers will know that I'm a huge Bristol City fan (we won 4-1 yesterday!), but i'm not going to turn down some Arsenal rock am I? I was scoffing the rock yesterday evening and I noticed that perhaps this wasn't an official product.. Somebody's taken an E. It's just like the 80's.

And by the way, isn't Boo Weekly an arsehead.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Arrggh, shiver me timbers.

Yes, it's national talk like a pirate day today.


'awight geezer, wanna buy a DVD for a fiver. I got a bootful mate, no word of a lie'


'excuse me, I seem to have scurvy, and my teeth are falling out'

no, no that's not the spirt is it?

Alright me hearties, feast you eyes on this lovely trincketBACK


Aye, ye be right in thinking that this here is The Big Green Bookshop loyalty card. Not so hasty, me luvlies, it's not for the likes of you landlubbers. This is just for the littluns. They likes the worm in the pirate get up, they do. So what do ye think of the booty in front of ye?
It's worth many doubloons to the young pirates in the Good Ship Haringey, and any scallywag who thinks it's a waste of time, will be forced to walk the plank. Aye, we'll feed them to the fish we will, you mark my words.

And what have we here me hearties? Why it's our first young Bookenier. Aye, this young whippersnapper's name is Emily Bogue, and she jumped on board on Wednesday. Aaargh many a shanty was sang that day, me lovelies.

So, here's the thing then. You know and young'un who wants to be a Bookenier? It doesn't cost a sheckle to join, and think of all the doubloons you'll save.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Tales of Twattle the Beard


This blog been written for charity, and we will not use it for personal gain.... Unless someone offers us money, obviously

I have had many adventures over the last week or so. Most of which I cannot divulge here due to legal reasons (yes, it is against the law to be as gorgeous as I am) I can - however - tell you two tales. The first I have entitled


I have, as may have been mentioned before, recently purchased an electric bicycle. It is a thing of beauty, and - even though the front brakes may not be fully functioning - it has become an invaluable tool in the delivering of books.
Take last Tuesday for example. The gleaming metal monster took me half way to Tottenham to read to a class of year one children (we all had a fantastic time, but that's a different story) and then back again. Battling the traffic on the West Green Road is a nightmare for an unprotected man of prodigious girth. Just think of the splat I would make.....

Then my sturdy steed took me all the way to Tottenham to rescue a school in need. The evil Knights of Ofsted were looming, and only a book from the Big Green Bookshop could save the day.

Then I mounted my charger for a charge up the great Muswell Hill, and back. And after that I plugged the charger into it's charger for a much needed recharge.

Let’s be honest here. It's a toy. But a really useful one and I am really enjoying zooming around the lovely borough of Haringey. Mounting pavements, cutting up wheelchairs and generally making a nuisance of myself.

This is what I look like when I am delivering books Seriously those bags are full of books... About 66 of them.... Go on, pick up 66 books and see how heavy they are. Now you know how butch I really am. Bet you're impressed

And now to the meat - so to speak - of the tale.

One evening a week or so ago, We had just launched Bahamian Breeze by Ellen Johnson and a good time (and much wine) was had by one and all, and especially me.

I realised – at something past midnight – that I was not able to ride home. The planet and I having become somewhat out of sync. Obviously the Earth was drunk, bucking and heaving the way it was. I decided that the best thing to do was to partake of some healing (tap) waters and wait for Earth to sober up a bit.

I opened my eyes at something past three, and realised that someone had stolen three hours. Some people will nick anything. Ah well, I thought, no point in losing any more time. So onto my steed I leapt.

Then I got off, put the saddle on and got on again.

There is, at the end of our road, an alley. Well lit and safe, but with a sharp turn on to a one way street at the end. Normally I head the wrong way up the one way street, but this night I decided to turn left.

I don’t know if it was the change in route that confused me, or some unknown outside influence. But – for whatever reason – I rolled gently to a stop. And forgot to put my foot down.

There are some people who can balance on two wheels with no forward momentum.

Sadly I am not one of them.

Oh dear, I said, as I slowly toppled against – and then slid down – the adjacent wall. Luckily the Earth – obviously regretting its earlier behaviour – came up to catch me.

Yes, it’s a blog about getting drunk and falling of my bike.

And the moral? You should always greet Mother Earth, but not at speed. Probably


Why is there always a fight on my bus?

Why is that woman in the queue in the post office looking at me like that?

Why is there a police officer always outside a local school when I am delivering?

Seriously why is she looking at me like that?

Why is the tree outside my house the only one that hasn’t been pruned?

I don’t recognise her…. But she keeps turning to look at me. There, she did it again.

Why doesn’t my eldest son look like me?

I’ll hide behind the person in between us in the queue. She moved. Really, she shuffled forward to look around my cover.

Why does my cat hate me?

She’s not looking at me now. She’s looking up….. At the CCTV monitor and I’m on it. Dear god…..

And the moral? Official definition of ‘Pruned’ to trim a tree by cutting away dead or overgrown branches. Means something very different in my circles.


Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear the things I agree to do.
Before watching the attached video you must know two things.

One: I thought I was joining in with an ‘open mike’ session. And I had decided that I would back out.

Two: I was still hung over from Bahamian Breeze.

Three: (yes I know I said two, but I am too lazy to go back and edit this) I had been drinking. Whether too much or too little I will leave to your judgement

I think I look like an upside down badger.

And the moral? I have no morals, and no shame. Shame about that, isn’t it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Catch Up

Sorry for a gap in proceedings, it's been a little busy in Simonworld, but here's a catch up of what's been occuring

This will be the first week in about 9 that we haven't had an event in the shop. We're averaging about 2-3 a week at the moment, so it's nice to have a week where we can chill out a bit in the evenings. Last week we had the fantastic Andrew Clover in to do some of the stuff from his Dad Rules one man show. He's been at the Edinburgh Festival with it, so it was a reet treet for the select group who turned up. Andrew is a very funny and entertaining fellow, and I hope he'll come back to the shop again.
We've also had our monthly poetry event. Now poets are a funny old bunch. When we opened the shop we didn't have a poetry section. We decided that we'd incorporate it into fiction (and plays), as we thought that those customers who always made a beeline for fiction might be introduced to poetry, an area of the shop that historically always struggles to make a profit.
It took about 26 minutes before our first outraged local poet demanded to know where the poetry section was. He wasn't best pleased, and after about 3 weeks of constant barracking from the seemingly neverending North London poetry societies, we relented, and introduced a poetry section. We also decided that we'd support these societies by providing them with a venue to perform.
This started well enough and our first couple of events were well attended. However, since then the individual poetry societies tend to only come along and listening to their own poets. Despite all the poets having an agenda of the events in the shop, they seem rarely to turn up unless they're performing. I thought poets would be a bit more adventurous than this. I also thought they might support the shop a bit more than they do as we stock all their books and we're offering them a pretty good venue to listen to something they so vehemently claimed we had to support (not to mention the free wine). We'll just have to see how well the next couple go...

Two of our better selling books in the shop are books that aren't being published any more (they're being suppied to us via the author). These books are selling through word of mouth, and also because they're very very good books.
One of them has been chosen by our children's Reading Group as this month's book choice. This group meets once a month, and after discussing the previous choice, the kids like to pile into the children's section and find a book that they then try and persuade the rest of the group to read for next time.
We've had Toonhead by Fiona Dunbar, which they loved. We've had Tunnels, which got a mixed review, Imperial Spy by Mark Robson and the groups favourite so far The Riddle of the Poisoned Monk by Sarah Matthias.
Anyway, going back to my point this month's choice is What You See is What You Get by Rosemary Furber. One of the group read this a couple of months ago. It's got skateboards in, science, ghosts, geeks and annoying sisters. But most of all it's a well written, scary exciting pageturner. I hope that Wolfhound republishes it, or else some forward thinking publisher takes it on (if that's how things work). Anyway, we're selling it at £1 off, so if you want to read it we'll post it to you for a quid, so you can sort of get it for the price of the book I guess. Here's the number 020 8881 6767, as if you didn't know it. Or you can just pay using the paypal button, and type in WYSIWYG in the notes box (It's a fiver to you guv)

The second book you'll have to wait a bit for, as i'm going to be doing an interview with the author soon, so hang on in there.

It was my beautiful girlfriend Katie's birthday today, and I had a day off. We went off to the farmers market in Alexandra park, and then for a a little walk with Freya, .

Little Freya's taking after her daddy a bit.....

WE're having a lazy afternoon, and we have a lovely chicken pie for tea tonight, so I might even be able to manage that myself. Happy birthday Katie. x

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

In Local News

Woolworth's is closing in the local shopping centre. It's 22,000 sq feet, so you could fit 32 Big Green Bookshops into it. If you were stupid.
What a huge shop!
It opened 7 years ago, next door to Wilkinson's, which is a bit like opening a Wetherspoon's next to a Yate's. It is frankly a horrible shop, and is always in an awful state, you can't find anything and the supervisors stand around on the shopfloor holding their bollocks, swearing loudly, and talking about how fast their cars go. I sound like a letter on Points of View don't i? The shopfloor staff who don't hold their bollocks are nice though, but there's usually 3 of them who've been told to stay on a till that no-one goes to, and usually one of the ball botherers is flirting painfully badly with another one who's trying to do some work.

It comes as no surprise that it's closing down, and it has little to do with the 'credit crunch'. It's pretty much down to the dreadful management and their lack of understanding of what it means to manage a shop.
Or (perhaps) it's because they don't care (perhaps) because they haven't been motivated. That's always a good excuse isn't it?

If you get to become a supervisor/manager you should be motivated or you should leave. Don't blame everyone else. You decided to go for the job, and you should want to do it. When you don't want to do it any more you should leave. Don't blame everyone else. Have a bit of pride.

Right, i'm off to the Wetherspoon's.