Yesterday I went up to York for the day to meet my friend and web designer, Madeleine, for lunch. My train got in an hour before hers so I wandered around the shops, feeling nostalgic for the days when I met my mother there. Some of the places we used to go to don’t exist anymore: the lovely Blakehead bookshop and cafe on Michelgate where we used to have lunch has gone, and so has Droopy and Brown’s, where we chose my wedding dress. So I was especially pleased to see that a shop I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog, Burgin’s Perfumery, established in 1880, is still going strong. It sells every perfume you can think of (and only perfume): that and the discounted lines must be the secret of its longevity.
And also still there is the Minster Gate Book Shop, which was where I began to wonder if I was going to escape without adding to my book collection. They have a great collection of remaindered books in the basement and I was tempted by Sylvia Townsend Warner’s The Corner That Held Them, her novel set in a convent in the 14th century. I read a couple of pages and was gripped, but reminded myself that I could get it out of the London Library, and the same was true of the biography of Sydney Smith that beckoned to me. And then I spotted The Way We Write: Interviews with Award-winning Writers, edited by Barbara Baker, reduced from over £40 to £4.95, and that was my downfall. I love reading about writers and thinking ‘oh, so you do that, too, do you?’ or conversely, ‘I couldn’t possibly write like that.’
And then after lunch I passed another second-hand bookshop and was drawn in. Nothing really spoke to me, but the place was so empty that I wanted to buy something out of solidarity. Luckily I spotted a World’s Classic edition of Trollope’s Framley Parsonage for £4. I’d noticed a few days ago that it was the only one of the Barchester novels that I hadn’t got, so I snapped it up. Luckily at that point I realised that I would have to hurry for my train, so I was saved from further tempation.
More news about my own books: Invisible is now out as a paperback, for those who prefer to read the good, old-fashioned way. It’s available here: http://amzn.to/RiFbPI or you could order it at your local book shop.