I have rid myself of most addictions, but still one persists. Sadly,in my weakness, I believe I will never shun it, due to it being the result of both nature and nurture. It has ramifications on health and can put great emotional strain on relationships. However hard I try, I cannot stop buying books. Each jab or vibration of sciatica is a reminder of its risk. Each stooped and spine arched pensioner a warning of what is to come if I don’t stop entering every charity shop for “just the one”. It is never just the one. While heroin or booze might annoy my wife, especially if I didn’t tidy up after myself, at least either of them, or both, would take up less space. No longer drinking alcohol or smoking, the smell of fumes and stale alcohol doesn’t mask the aroma of books, wherever I secrete them.
How did today’s biblio debauchery begin?
I spent the morning attempting to turn 12,000 words of Simon Singh and I talking, into 1000 words cohesive enough for the readers of Libertine magazine. This was no scalpel precision but mad axe bludgeoning of sentences, paragraphs and pages. I was not an editor, I was a berserker.
Being in Eastbourne, and having a day that gave me room to gasp, I wandered into the town centre for cake and tea (I recommend Bumper Books for Boys and Girls. Their Victorian Sandwich cake is not to die for, but its buttery sugary sponge-y deliciousness may kill you in the end). I was reminded that Joanna Neary had warned me an of ex-library book bookshop in Eastbourne’s public library.
I was right beside it.
So I popped in.
Just for a browse.
A couple of interesting looking books, including Stuart Christie’s Granny Made Me an Anarchist. Despite doing gigs for Lewisham anarchists in the 90s, I didn’t know much about them.
Maybe I needed it.
No no, not yet.
I should move on.
Barely in the door of the Oxfam Bookshop, I saw Teach Yourself Postmodernism. I should teach myself that, it could come in handy whenever I tilt my head to the left opposite a collage and say something that means less than I realise.
All was quite amongst the history and fiction shelves. I don’t bother with sport, I have the three books I need on that – two books of John Arlott and a Jimmy White autobiography.
Browsing a long the World Religions section, i see three Richard Dawkins books, none are The God Delusion. I hope that doesn’t start to give him a messiah complex. First along the Academic section, which is not really academic, but science, psychology, anthropology, sociology, philosophy and some that should really be self-help, is Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. I remember the copy I have at home is not mine, and so I have been unable to scar it with annotations, confused questions to myself and underlinings. This one will fulfill that purpose.
Then, Edward T Hall’s The Silent Language – “an anthropologist reveals how we communicate by our manners and behaviour” – now that is definitely something I need to know about, there could be a show in it.
And Magic, Science and Religion and other essays by Bronislaw Malinowski, that could have some rich morsel ripe for the spinning in some fringe show or other, and if it is no use, I can always pass it on to Alan Moore. The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius? I am sure I will get around to reading that, and if not, it matches all the other Penguin Classics I haven’t read that look nice in a row.
Oh no, a so many books on the pound shelf. I don’t have River out of Eden in hardback, and I must find out more about The Death of Christian Britain, and that Howard Gardner book on the mind might help with developing my current show. I realise I have 207 notes, and my first warm up shows were two hours if I ignored nearly all of them, but maybe this will be the book that provides a perfect clear line that will run through that tour show that really will be 90 minutes like it says on the theatre websites.
I take the stack to the cashier. He is mulling over 7 inch single of Baa Baa Black Sheep that suggests, from its cover art, that it is recorded using real sheep.
The till goes awry and I let someone go ahead of me as they only have one book and they are in a rush. They say, on the cusp of impoliteness, that they would never have picked the book from the shelf had they known there was a man at the counter with such a stack of books. Are they barely masking their disgust?
In the time this transaction takes, I notice a Film Genre Reader that discusses David Cronenberg. I better get that too.
I eat my Victoria Sponge cake leafing through this new gathering of books. My spine feels psychosomatic bruising.
Oh, there is a Red Cross Shop on the way back. Well, everyone tells me Caitlin Moran’s Moranthology is worth reading.
“you do know you can get another book free?”
“oh no, no thank you”
By the time I am back at The Lamb Inn, Granny Made me an Anarchist is in my bag too.
Another day done. No bookshops tomorrow. Work out a route to Cambridge that avoids them. I think I can do. Yes, tomorrow, I can do it.
I am on tour with a new show – Falmouth, Norwich, Sheffield, Nottingham, Salford, London, Bristol and a town near you. All details HERE
Cosmic Genome app has further updates from Richard Dawkins, Brian Cox, Alice Roberts and many more HERE