Crisp Service

I want to read Colm Toibin’s latest book Brooklyn, and in the spirit of keeping independent bookshops alive popped into one today to make my purchase. It is run by a Mr and Mrs team  – think Alan Carr and Nanny McPhee – he stands in the doorway smoking and she occupies the till zone  thumping a keyboard to the beat of “I’ve got unstable PMS”.

So I have one foot on the pavement and one inside the shop and he already wants to know what I want. I name the book and he says “Follow me” and leads me the longest way through the shop to the till point. “Tell her what you want” he says to me nodding at his wife, so I do.  And the conversation continues “Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, please”, “Brook who?” she barks back. “Brooklyn, as in the place in America” I elaborate helpfully. She types the title with brute force, studies her screen and tells me “There is no such book”.  We play the oh yes there is, oh no there isn’t game until she gets bored first and opens a jumbo bag of kettle crisps and fills her mouth with them. I glance back at her husband who is gazing at his warty woman with a blend of lust and admiration.

She sighs in exasperation because I am still there and crisp fragments pebbledash the computer screen in front of her .She spins round in an effort to get shot of me. “Look! It says here no book of that name found”. I lean in and see she has typed the word “Brookline” , so I say in my best care in the community voice “B-R-O-O-K-L-Y-N, as in America, not Brookline.”  Unsurprisingly I am still the only customer in the shop so she has plenty of time to argue with me, “Brookline is in America” she insists. “Where?” I ask, not really giving a flying fajita.   “I don’t know. I just know that it is. Sorry, we’re closing for lunch now.”

Petty, I know, but I told them  that I was going to go home and order it on Amazon whilst eating brie and grapes with my feet in a basin of cold water and generally having a sublime shopping experience. They sneered in unison and told me that Amazon is putting shops like theirs out of business.

10 comments to Crisp Service

  • Julie Pereira

    Oh dear God – so much for small independant book shops. They obviously have another branch too as I think I’ve met them – my recent visit resulted in a shelf complete with 30-40 books thumping onto my foot whilst I was browsing. My whimpering was drowned out the tutting of “Nanny McPhee” glaring as me and wanting me to pick up the books which had broken all 200 bones in my foot (or least it felt like it). I’m so glad the place has closed down in recent weeks and I’m all cosy ordering on-line from Amazon.

    I love your “flying fajita” comment – VERY funny!

  • Moya

    I think you should be awarded a medal of the highest order for merely setting foot inside that place——– did it ever cross your mind that the ‘shop’ is a front for a very different venue? Man ,leaning against door smoking, no other customers and a woman who can’t spell and has no knowledge of BOOKS and AUTHORS!!!!!! Pleasr take me to it next time I’m in London.

  • Anna May

    Julie, how big is your foot ? 200 bones ?

    Moya, it’s a date.

    Anna May x

  • Ah yes, the local friendly book store…Ours reeks of Major and the owner just wants to imprison you there and bark about himself VS the corrupt town council. I’ve stopped going in, in favour of, yes, Amazon.

  • Anna May

    Helllo Nuala, I’m impressed that you have a free hand for blogging at all ! How are you all and Juno? You should be ordering everything on line right now just to make life live-able………Anna May x

  • I just about have one hand free….Juno’s lovely, sweet and cute. She feeds and sleeps, lets the odd squawk of protest. Meanwhile I weep, try to drink cups of tea in peace and rest. Ah the joys!

  • Anna May

    Ah yes, I remember that weepy thing, it’s when the waters behind your eyes break ! It’s a wonderful achievement to have three lovely children Nuala, and if their magnifiecent mammy needs a cry now and then you should have one, as often as you like
    Anna May x

  • How depressing. But don’t lose faith, there are still good indies around – Crockatt & Powell, Daunt, Owl Bookshop, West End Lane Books, Broadway Market Books, Mr B’s Emporium, Bookseller Crow, Topping’s, to name but a few. These are the shops than make book buying a joy. Tell me where you live, maybe I can find a friendly neighbourhood shop closer than you think – one which is an even better shopping experience than feet up in front of the computer.

  • Julie Pereira

    I have just checked in “ask jeeves” and there are 28 bones in a foot – I am amazed it’s so few but there you go. How sad am I on a Saturday evening to be googling about foot bones!

  • Anna May

    Marie, I agree there are some great indie book shops – and they are too good to abandon.

    Julie and Jeeves – well researched

    Anna May x