Friday, 11 May 2018

not selling TS Eliot


Up in the Vale of Pewsey, you can wake up on a still night and listen to the nearest thing to silence you're likely to get in Britain. Maybe a deer will bark, or a tawny owl will hoot, and then the silence will return and you can watch the stars slowly wheeling and slowly fall into them.

And sometimes a big military transport plane or attack helicopter will suddenly roar over, so low that the windows rattle, and that's pretty exciting too.

I like the Wiltshire towns we pass along the way; Devizes is very happening, with a lively arts scene and Jo Batchelor's ace bookshop; Pewsey has the large and lively Cossors charity shops, and you can often find interesting and unlikely books there; the other day I found a compilation of Abbie Hoffman's works, which included a detailed chapter on making bombs, complete with diagrams. Goodness. Funny to think that in these changing times, it would only take a photograph of those pages uploaded onto the internet to suddenly get the unwanted attention of officialdom, and all without leaving my desk.

So obviously I shan't do that. Crikey.

Yesterday we bimbled over to Marlborough for a bit of a jolly and to get the groceries in. Their Waitrose has more different sorts of olive oil than any other Waitrose I know. The charity shops are full of polo shirts with nautical motifs on them, and hacking jackets. I looked with interest at a spiraliser, and decided that my minimalist spiky potato peeler would do me just fine for when I want to shred my coleslaw, and had a lively discussion about the joys of living in a boat.

There's a bookshop too, and so I'd taken along a few copies of Drawn Chorus, because why not? I waited while the shop's manager helped a customer select a book by Santa Montefiore, then presented him with my slim volume.

He looked cursorily, and handed it gingerly back with an expression of distaste, as though every bird in the book had taken a shit on it.

'We don't really sell poetry. It's hard enough selling TS Eliot!'

Couldn't argue with that. Marlborough has a sound sense of what is proper; and if they are not going to buy poetry, then it is TS Eliot that they will insist on not buying.

Presently, we sat in a cafe, waiting for our lunch. I briefly considered an omelette, but then remembered where I was and went for the ham eggs and chips. Can't be too careful. Chris and Jinny whipped out their electronic devices and hooked into the cafe wifi, and began gleefully downloading Kindles. I made snarky comments on Facebook, and an old Flickr friend from Bristol commented 'I'm in Marlborough right now!'

And so he was. So nice to meet you face to face at last, Steve!