Saturday, December 30, 2006

Some people are never satisfied

So here i am, polishing my leather with gay abandon, when a chap walks in.
He starts with the preliminary junk about "Do you Sell books" (No its a library you Muppet, of course I sell books. Or at least 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 you twisted twat and encumber by 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

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!!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Strange Days

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......


Chap with very pale and pregnant girlfriend come in. Both looking pretty strung out from drugs - Maybe uncharitable - but I can recognize the signs!!!

One of the signs was that he was clutching a very ordinary embroidered cushion, Circa 1980's - value about nil. He was very keen to sell this to me, telling me that it was a valuable and antique cushion worth about £150, but that I could have it for £25.

I pointed out that I was a bookshop, and he smiled and said that it was a Beatrix Potter cat, and that I could have it for £15. Girlfriend just gazed ahead vaguely.

When I politely declined, they wafted off, and were last seen trying to sell the cushion to a passing pedestian in the street.

Does this happen in John Lewis?

Monday, December 11, 2006

A tempting offer

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
So having seen the shop - he has little excuse..

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.

Truth and Honesty

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.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Damn Communists

What have I done to deserve this week? (Please don't rush to answer this - I'm sure there is some Karmic reason somewhere - 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 nonedescript 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!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Not enought Pot

Chap comes in, up to the counter and asks if I have any books on Antique Pot Lids. I ask him what sort of pots he means, and he tells me he wants a book on the lids of jam jars, honey pots, glass and ceramic - as long as they are over 50 years old.

I ask him about the pots themselves, and he looks at me as if I'm an absolute idiot.
"Why would I want a book about those? It's only the lids i'm interested in!"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Mills & Boon

I have my own little fan club in the bookshop. (Me being Mitch obviously!!!)
Among my keenest fans are the Mills & Boon tribe.
Far too big to be a mere family, this clan consists primarily of a woman and her mother.
But every time they come in they also bring in:
Womans 3 children (and sometimes childrens friends); Eldest childs 2 year old daughter (and sometimes his father too)
Mothers friend (should be called Ethel - but I won't swear to that); Husband occassionaly.
Yes folks - thats between 7 and 12 of them....... It's only a little shop and they are all very loud.....

Anyway, this fine pair order Mills & Boon books to complete their sets. The point of this story (yes there is a point) was a conversation the two women had with me last week. The younger woman is telling me of the joys of the Mighty Quinn's and the Dangerous Darcey's (I shit you not - you couldn't make up these titles.) she is telling me that the romantic stories are not just light reading - they are good fiction.

Mother turns to me conspiriatorialy and comments that she doesn't go in for these silly American and Irish romances - far too lightweight for her. She likes the medical romances - cos at the same time as the story you can learn a lot about medicine and hospitals.

Now what could I say to that?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

My restraint is admirable

Woman comes into the shop and tries to sell a plastic bag full of tatty paperbacks.

I politely decline, and say that we don't buy paperbacks and that she had probably best take them to a charity shop.

At this point, she swept them up, and told me that we would do a lot better and probably make more money if we took a leaf out of the charity shops book (please excuse the pun).

I pointed out that we sell our paperbacks for about half the price of those in the charity shops in town, and as they get them free we can't really justify buying them.

She tells me that there are far too many charity shops in town, and that they are all getting far too greedy - after all they get all their stock for nothing, and that I shouldn't compare myself to them, as we are a "Real bookshop".

And she left........

Enough Religion Already

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?

Hardcore Heavy Metal

You get some very odd ones in Antiquarian bookshops....

So here I was, innocently working away in my little shop........
When a very respectable chap walks in.
Typical customer. Mid Sixties, smartly dressed with a checked jacket (and obligatory hankerchief to top pocket)
Tie, neat trousers, brogues etc: Neat moustache.

"Can I help you" I intone in my nicest, middle english bookseller voice.

"I do hope so" came back. "Do you have any biographies on Marilyn Manson, they're my favourite band, they're awfully good.. Do you know them?"

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ye Beginings

Ok here goes....
(Pauses to dip his antiquarian quill into the inkwell on his ancient and battered desk)
(Pauses to work out how to remove permanent ink from the keyboard)
(Pauses in a vain attempt to think of something worth recording / blogging/ passing on.)

This blog is intended to be a few notes on the things that happen in a second hand bookshop.
Don't be fooled into thinking that bookshops are dull.

Every day is filled with bizarre behaviours and comments, absurd actions, wierd and wonderful people and oddity.

But enough about the staff - the customers are a little strange too.

Hopefully here, I shall record some of the events in my little second hand bookshop.

In order to protect the guilty, and to prevent myself being sued - I shall not generally name names (unless people are so stupid that they REALLY deserve public exposure for their idiocy.)

Suffice it to say, that we are a medium sized antiquarian bookshop in a cathedral town in the south of england. Among the staff are Marc, the shop owner - who thinks he runs the place, little does he know that bookshops all have an existence of their own far removed from the proprietor; Rosie, an elderly collie who snores for most of the day; Two Davids - one young, who wishes he is at football or in bed most of the time - one old, who acts in most of the Am Dram productions locally, and generally hams it up the rest of the time; Lua, the crazy Brasilian, who lived in the poetry room for a while, and now occasionaly works (but often visits); Chris, a very sensible retired Administrator, who brings order into chaos and smiles benevolently as we create chaos out of it again immediately; Holly is our newest recruit, and combines sewing with creating edible orgasms (also known as lemon meringe pies) with tidying up the shop and giggling. Then there is me, Mitch, the Bearded Collie. I'm the one who really runs the place (ask any of the customers!) and I shall be your bloggy doggy host!