A day in London for the Long Barn Books editorial board meeting and within a dove's flutter of Waterstone's flagship store in Piccadilly, so I was never going to come home empty handed.
There is something completely and utterly intoxicating to those of us regularly deprived of the experience; to walk into a really huge book shop and just smell those books (and the toilets in this instance, more on that in a minute).
I love going into this branch in particular because, back in 1972, one of my best and most elegant of school friends went to work in this very building as a trainee buyer when it was Simpsons the department store, while I pootled off in my K Skip Rosamund shoes and a lot of starch down to my ankles to be a student nurse in the slightly less grand environs (then) of Bloomsbury.I was thinking of her in this still splendid and stately environment, though I bet the toilets were a lot cleaner back then.
Waterstone's, this is your most glorious store and you can't afford bad water closet days.
Who's in charge? You really need to sort out that hourly rota, "This toilet was last checked at...on...by...".
I'm not neurotic about it, in fact after 30 years of health visiting it takes an awful lot of filth and dirt to impress me, but I'm bound to notice this sort of thing and I think I could actually see the E.Coli leap frogging over the MRSA. Some swabs and petrie dishes would have yielded spores galore.The smell wafting out of the door, the filthy roller towel long past its final tug and dragging on the floor, washbasins and toilets "out of order" and the electric hand dryer, dead as a dodo.
You are likely to spend hours in a shop this size and eat in the lovely restaurant or coffee shop too, so clean facilities are essential, a bout of Rotavirus or Norwalk is not.
In the end I was a model of buying restraint knowing what was sitting at home in Mt.Unread.
But I couldn't resist a set of Enter a Fox,The Smoking Diaries and The Year of the Jouncer by Simon Gray.Curzon and Susan have both enjoyed those recently, I'm sure I will too.
I'm just barely flexing an ankle at A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell.I'll try Volume One, A Question of Upbringing and see whether I want to read the other eleven.It lends itself in this format to a book a month but I'm not sure how I'll fare. Something has always scared me off these, heaven knows what.Probably just the sheer volume of continous reading but coming to it for the first time will be interesting.
Feeling chastened and mean about my Irene Nemirovsky failure I snapped up David Golder in an attempt to read it before any massive hype or reviews pitch up under my nose. I've finished this already and I can declare a rapprochement so I'm hopeful that Irene and I will become friends after our Suite Francaise fall out.More soon.
Finally in the post, via Adele Geras,(thanks again Adele) a lovely signed copy of Linda Newbery's Set in Stone, winner of the Costa Children's Book Award.
In my hands in Waterstone's Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford and I was oh so tempted, but I dithered and dithering is fatal.
I put it back, persuade me someone.