Thursday, December 21, 2006

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

Yesterday was my last ever day at Crockatt & Powell, but it was too busy to blog about it then. It feels very weird, since, as Adam and Matthew will tesitfy, I had started to think of the place as partly mine, and would stomp around as if I was in charge, telling the boys (you know, the actual owners) off for failing to tidy the children's section, or not stocking enough Margaret Atwood novels. Now it's just another bookshop, and I wonder how long it will take before I am emotionally capable of purchasing my reading matter from the Stoke Newington bookshop (5 minutes from my house) rather than C&P (an hour and ten minutes, though as we know, they do deliver.) Possibly never.

Here's what I will miss: The boys. The customers. (When I left my last bookselling job, I couldn't wait to see the back of most of our customers, as they were patronising and rude and given to assuming [to give a genuine example] that I had never heard of Picasso. At C&P the customers are, without exception, lovely. I have come to think of many of them - of you - as friends. My favourite part of the job is talking to them / you, if I could do nothing else all day I would be happy. And nobody ever begins to spell Ian McEwan for me when inquiring about which of his books we have in stock.) Being able to go into the other room and tidy the children's section whenever I am feeling agitated about something. (Rearranging the bookshelves at home does not have the same effect.) Meeting loads of interesting authors at our events. The girls and the food at MarshRuby, Lower Marsh's and London's best curry place and my daily lunchtime stop. Manny. Our friendly delivery drivers, reps, and postmen. Free proofs. Being surrounded by books all day. Talking about books all day (may have already mentioned this.)

Here's what I won't miss: The loo - so dirty, so cold, so terrifyingly positioned under the stairs to the flat above us so that every time you're sitting there, there's the fear that someone is going to come crashing down through the ceiling and onto your shivering lap. The cellar (though I did start refusing to go down there several months ago.) The endless phone calls from people trying to get us to change our phone, gas or electricity supplier. Opening the shutters in the rain. Closing the shutters under any circumstances - they are too high for me to reach without balancing on the 1cm-wide window ledges outside, and many is the time I have fallen off whilst trying to grab the edges of the shutters, giving myself blisters and bruises on my fingers as they scrabble on the hard metal. Adam's cycling outfit. Matthew's taste in music (see below). Tidying up after events. Getting up at 7 a.m. The commute.

But I won't be a total stranger - I'll still be running our bookgroup (7pm, first Monday of the month, all welcome.) And of course [plug] when my novel 'Gods Behaving Badly' comes out this August [/plug] I will force the boys to do some kind of event / signing / filling up the windows with copies and a cardboard cut-out of myself holding a pen and looking clever. And I still have the password to this blog... You're not quite rid of me yet.


  1. Don't believe the Hype.

    Marie has not really left us!

    (Or is this what they call denial - another mental problem to add to my collection)

  2. What's wrong with my cycling outfit?

  3. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

  4. Awh, but we know she'll at least be back for that crucial book launch in August...

  5. You must be joking Lisa - our shop is too small for Marie.

    They are hiring out the Albert Hall...


    Marie - don't goooooooooo

  7. Oh, Marie, how we will all miss you! You and the guys were a perfect team for sure: at least as bloggers.

    All the very best.

    And, to Adam and Matthew, you have to tell Marie before she leaves how you have been playing cool on the exterior and actually, you are going to miss her terribly, and you appreciate all that she is and has done to make C&P the best bookstore in town. Don't do the guy thing and wait until she is packed up and gone.

  8. Marie - although we've never met, having seen your ex-workplace, I have always read your blog entries and visualised you sitting in the captain's chair behind the C&P console, keeping those two wascally wabbits on their toes, mitigating their more extreme hardcore and Booker-baiting exploits, adding a small but crucial feminine touch to the whole C&P operation.

    Adam and Matthew may never have another ampersand like you again. The bookselling world is a sadder place tonight.

    Good luck with this new chapter in your life, and the moment your book is published, we'll have it in Mostly Books, and an event to boot if you ever up Oxfordshire way. That's a promise.

    Best wishes for the future - Mark & Nicki

  9. Thank you. I am planning a tour of independent bookshops so I will definitely put you on the list. Don't worry, my experience running events here and struggling to get bums on seats means that I will be perfectly happy if it's just you two, me, and a lone drunk wondered in out of the cold. (Though if the lone drunk doesn't show, there will be hell to pay...)

  10. We have developed a small, but highly targeted blacklist of people we have various literary 'dirt' on - these will be used to call in favours, and ensure at least 5 people attend (not including the drunk - that'll be me of course working up my usual post-event migraine...)