Religious week in the bookshop

Damned Communists (first published December 2006)

What have I done to deserve this week? (Please don’t rush to answer this – I’m sure there is some karmic reason somewhere – but I don’t really want to know).

Today was the turn of the American Evangelical Christian. Here I am, sat innocently behind my desk, tapping away on my little computer, when a nondescript American with about 5 cameras around his neck comes up and asks me where the Bibles are. I show him to the Christian books, where I have bibles in Greek, Latin, Welsh, a couple of old Apocrypha and of course the Talmud in Hebrew. He is disappointed that I don’t have any modern Bibles, and I explain a bit about the economics of 16th Century Bible good – 20th Century rather common.

He browses for a little while and then appears again at the desk, and begins a fine rant on how I have lots of evil books – but no bibles in English. Here I am expecting the esoteric section to come in for a bashing, but instead he turns on the Karl Marx books, and complains about how Jews and communists are ruining God’s world – and how Marx is in fact the Antichrist and the Endtimes are here.

Always nice to have a reasoned intellectual discussion at work.
He didn’t buy anything!

Enough Religion already (first published Dec 2006)

So here we were, sat in our little shop, minding our own business and enjoying a little freedom of Religion
when a lady walks in and up to the counter.

“Are you Jewish?” she asks

“Not I” was my reply, while I hurriedly hid my Menorah (one can never be too careful near Hanukkah)

On being told that I’m not, she asks who is Jewish in the shop.
I explained that as far as I know, there was no-one Jewish working in the shop, although Mitchell the Mutt has Hasidic tendancies and Rosie is prone to Pharrisaic opinions

She told me that she had been sent by the Methodist Church, who thought that this might be a Jewish bookshop and that she was working for inter-faith and reconcilliation for the Jewish Community.

It seems there are 73 Jews in our town – split into three groups – Orthodox – Reformed and another faction that I didn’t follow! – Without us, there are now probably only 72 – pity. However, this fine lady is working to reconcile the groups.

She went away, quite cheerfully and invited us to Hanukkah anyway.

It got a little stranger later in the day.
I was relating this tale of religious tolerance and joy to Holly (Quaker – I do hope you are keeping up!),
when a head popped up from behind the Natural History section (always a worry)
“I’m from the Methodist Church and know the lady you are talking about” he stated
I did a quick double take to make sure I hadn’t been too insulting about the Methodists in the last half hour – he seemed cheerful though, so it must be ok.

Apparently, the Jewish Lady in question, had gone to the Methodist Church, and told THEM that we were Jewish, and that she was on the way here to be reconciled with us.

So the question of the day for us, is Who DID tell her we were a Jewish bookshop?

 

Books brought and sold (sometimes)

The Literary Festival. (first published Dec 2006)

A decidedly odd day in the shop.

We have been getting publicity for our support of the local festival. Waterstones have decided not to support the festival – which would have lost all of its literary element. The four independant bookshops in town have come together to put up the cash / support

First customer pops in and walks to the counter. She says “I just wanted to congratulate you on supporting the festival” and walks out.

Next customer appears, makes their way to the counter and tells us “Well done for supporting the festival – that will really put the people behind you” and leaves.

Third customer is clutching a Waterstones bag, and tells us how wonderful it is that the independant bookshops are supporting the festival, and goes.

Another customer walks in ………

Oh I can’t be bothered…..

A tempting offer. (first published Dec 2006)

I received a phone call today.
Chap had been into the shop and had a good look around, and decided to offer to sell me some books…

He asks me if i was interested in buying some management and marketing books. When I declined, he told me that these can fetch some very high prices and I am a fool to pass them up.

Then he asks me about paperbacks – all around 20 to 30 years old. I replied that I couldn’t pay much for these, as I sold them for about £1 – £1.50. He decided it wasn’t worth selling me those then!

In passing, he told me that he was, of course, selling all his good books to London dealers as complete libraries (Guaranteed to make me feel favourably towards him!) and he wanted to know what sort of books I did bother to buy then. On my replying that I would be interested in high quality and antiquarian books, he asked me if I would purchase some biographies from him.

When I tried to pursue idea of the “good books” he told me that he wouldn’t sell those to me, as otherwise he would never get rid of the rest of the rubbish !

I was good….. I didn’t swear………. I just quietly hung up the phone and stomped around the shop for a while sobbing gently into my coffee.

The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth (first published Dec 2006)

I was asked recently how much of the blog I had made up / invented.

Now, much as I would be the last person to let truth get in the way of a good story, I can assure you all, that I have no need to exaggerate or make anything up. These people are real, and the things they come out with a real.

Sad but true – I am surrounded by muppets, lunatics and booksellers.

Memoirs of a bookshop dog

I have been looking over my old blog today. This covered the time that I had a bookshop in Salisbury. It was a commentary on the customers, books and events – partly from the perspective of my dog Mitchell. When i read them now – I realise that I probably have more in common with Bernard of Black Books than I like to admit. Certainly, the blog entries would suggest I cultivated his approach to customer service. Many of these should be consigned to history – but there are some that I hope may still appeal to a bookselling and book buying audience.  So I shall offer them up here now and again!

Some people are never satisfied .  (First published Dec. 2006).

So here i am, polishing my leather with gay abandon, when a chap walks in.
He starts with the preliminary introduction of  “Do you Sell books?”

I resist scornful comments about generally being more of an exhibition or library and say yes, we do try to. Then announces that he needs a copy of a woodcut. Particularly, it must be mid eighteenth century, by a botanical artist rather than an illustrator, and must be of an Oak leaf, and an acorn.

This sounds fairly specific to me – so it is with joy in my heart, and a slightly smug and self satisfied spring in my step that I go straight to the “Illustrators of Oak Leaves” department, where I find a perfect original print of an Oak Leaf, botanically produced, with an acorn to the side and a cross section of both Leaf and Acorn (let me know If I am boring you!!). Beautiful condition, printed in 1750 (For the less historical of you, the is about as “middle of the Eighteenth Century” as it is possible to get). And best of all, £4.

I show this to the chap. Of course you have already figured what is coming next………”It’s not quite what I had in mind”

I can now feel a wave of the Little Britain “Shop of Horrors” sketch floating over me. It was all I could do to resist shouting at him “What the f*&&K do you mean it’s not what you had in mind – Not Oaky enough for you? Want something a little less Acorny? Leave now and encumber my bookshop no more with your fetid presence” but I settled with a “Sorry that’s the best I can do”.

(Sobs sadly into his coffee mug and dreams of normal people.)

By the way – I was offered a book on Porcelain Pot Lids today!! I refused to buy it our of spite!

Sinks and Soda.  (First published Dec. 2006).

Chap walks in
Comes up to the desk and announces that he has a ceramic Belfast / Butler type sink
He tells me that I have a lot of books
What should he use to clean it with?
Apparently the sink has no chips or damage!

I asked him if he had used Caustic Soda
And he replied no – he would try some immediately.

Next questions was about which Caustic Soda stockist I would recommend locally!!!