The complete collection of both current and past Book Chats has now been relocated to:
and there organised according to Topic.
N.B. The three most amusing are reproduced below...
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Book Chats on Customers
Last updated August 2020.
"Well, Well, Well...Can you imagine our surprise!"
"Have you got anything on Evolution..?" said the quiet voice...
"Well...as it happens sir...we do have this early copy of "The Origin of Species....""
"That will do nicely Thank You. May I take it please. I'm passing through...just visiting my last common ancestor...".
We turned round and he was gone...but the shop security camera had a trace.......
(...with grateful thanks to Karl Salter...).
"Hope is patience, with the lamp lit". Tertullian
It was winter, a few years ago, and near closing time. She was elderly, frail, apologetic…but determined.
“Can you tell me where your red books are please?”
“Well Ma’am…we have a shelf of Large Print Books here…or would it be audio books..? Would you have an author in mind..?”
“No. No. “Red” books, red..deep deep red please….”
“Books in red jackets..!"
“Yes…I’ve been looking for so long”.
“Well ...perhaps our best selection of red books would be in hardback fiction or biography…there…or over here ma’am…!”
“Thank You young man…”
…and with that she drew out a small swatch of what looked like red velvet or possibly red corduroy cloth…
Ten minutes later we had a sale and a delighted customer.
“This will do perfectly”
The book was to go under her bedside lamp…but…it had to exactly match her lampshade cloth..!
“You could even read the book ma’am…by the light of the lamp..”
And with that she disappeared into the night.
"In the Springtime of One's Senescence".
A few weeks ago an elderly man came in the shop (when I say elderly…well..late eighties,…early nineties, at a guess. Not exactly on a Zimmer Frame, but with a stick and still quite sprightly with it).
He asked with a twinkle if I had anything “Special”. *
Thinking this looks like fun.....I asked him gently “How Special?
“Well..quite special, if you don’t mind”.
“Ah…well you probably need to have a browse through these”…and set him up with our library steps at the rear of the shop (a view not too dissimilar to Carl Spitzweg's famous 1852 image on the far right above....!).
About five minutes later, we got a plaintive call for help.
There he was, balanced precariously by the top shelf, and looking rather forlorn.
“What’s Up?" I said.
There was a long silence, and then…
“Well…to be honest, I’ve quite forgotten what I got up here for…!”
We finally got him down and settled with some early copies of Men Only and Mayfair. All a bit tame really by today’s standards, but what sticks in my memory is the way the human psyche never gives in. Any geriatric nurse will tell you the same (those of you who have read and absorbed Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs** will know what I mean….).
Another thought that comes to mind is how much better the French are at this sort of publication (Note added January 4th 2016...see our second entry by Pauline Reage, in our new Webpage "Our Special Collections"). They seem to understand and respect the reader’s psyche much better, and the watercolour artwork is so much more beautiful…..
Then there is the delightful area of humerous Bookplates (ex-libris erotici)***…one could go on and on…..
So, I thought I might round this off by giving a few leads to what has given me much pleasure over the years….
I think of them as Bookchat Consolations.....
1. Libby Jones. “How to Undress in Front of Your Husband”. 1967. Tandem. 80pp. (Ah well..dream on.....).
2. pp 106 - 111 in R A Baker (edits): "A Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown". 1963. Prentice-Hall. (Who said Engineering couldn't be fun!).
3. Joseph Needham’s ten page “Postscript” in Jolan Chang’s “The Tao of Love and Sex”. 1977. Wildwood.
4. John Norman. “Imaginative Sex”. 1974. Daw Books.
5. Pauline Reage. “Story of O”. 1965. Grove Press.
*[Those of you old enough to remember the Sixties…or have ever had an antiquarian bookstore, will know that "do you have anything special?" is code for under-the-counter-books. Books that in my youth in the Fifties or Sixties would be wrapped up in brown paper and hidden under the school desk! It all seems a bit tame now, with everything instantly available on the Internet; a little sad really, as there was an element of adventure and mischievousness as schoolkids that somehow made the whole thing completely innocent, as well as fun!].
**Abraham Maslow “The Farther Reaches of Human Nature”. Viking. 1971.
***“Ex Libris Erotici”. R Palazzi. 1982. Savelli Editori. (Granted, a little hard to find title, but filled with the most delightful artwork by Franz von Bayros, Alberto Martini, Felicien Rops, etc, etc).
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