Monday, January 02, 2012

2011. It happened.

It is hard to sum up how incredible 2011 has been for us. But I am going to try. Many things happened and I can't list them all (I could, but it would take a very long time and I need to sleep), but I hope this gives you some idea of why we love what we do.
Let's go.....
    This time last year, we realised that we were in a little bit of trouble. Financially. We decided that the best way to try and deal with this was to let people know. We had a solution to the problem and just needed a bit of help to get us through the tricky situation we found ourselves in. So we wrote this  'Please Help' message, and posted it on the blog, Facebook, Twitter and we sent it to all the people on our mailing list. The response was staggering. Withing 24 hours we were inundated with incredible offers of help, donations and the sales in the shop increased sixfold. This continued for weeks, and raised the profile of the shop like nothing before. It also got us out of our immediate financial difficulty. The goodwill and warmth that the bookshop was shown still brings a tear to my eye.
Remember the Strugglometer?
We started a monthly Comedy Night this year in the bookshop. I think it was February that the first one happened and it has grown and grown since then. It is awesome, and this is mainly down to Chris and Ben, two of our friends who have taken it upon themselves to organise it all for us. This is such a great thing to be happening in Wood Green and we are now regulalrly getting standing room only audiences, such is the talent of the acts who perform here. (next night is on Friday January 20th at 8pm)

We also started a Monthly Poetry Night which with the help of Eliza will hopefully be as big as the comedy night soon.

In July, I cycled 120 miles overnight, from Hackney to Dunwich on the Suffolk coast. I wasn't by myself, or else I would have got lost many many times. Luckily there were about 1,500 other cyclists who turned up too. It is a thing called the Dunwich Dynamo and here is why I did it. It was amazing and I loved it. It is a truly incredible feeling cycling down a hill in pitch blackness following  the red back light of a bicycle 50 metres ahead of you. It is also a truly incredible feeling watching the Sun come up after cycling 100 miles. I would recommend it (if you like cycling a lot).
This is me and my magnificent bicycle after 120 miles. Seconds after this photo was taken I was asleep.

August will be remembered for the riots, which started on Saturday August 6th in Tottenham. During that night of trouble, loads of people turned up in Wood Green, having realised that the police were busy a couple of miles up the road. For 5 hours they looted and smashed shop after shop. The following day I wrote this post . I was angry and upset, as were many other people, but trying to find a positive, one of the things that came about from what happened in Wood Green and Tottenham (and i'm sure in many other areas affected), was how strong the community was. The support that those affected were shown afterwards by the local people was phenomenal. People gave their time and money to help those who'd become homeless or had lost their businesses and for the weeks afterwards there was a kind of steely determination not to let this dreadful series of events damage the area permanently. As I said then, I am in no position to offer solutions, but there is a strong core of people in Haringey who, given the chance, can make a real difference. Let's hope they are one day soon.

Glamorous musical visitors this year included Pauline Black from the brilliant 2Tone 80's band The Selecter, Hugh Cornwell lead singer of the legendary punk band The Stranglers, and the superb Jimbob from Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, who played a brilliant acoustic set in the shop. We also had a visit from (sweary) darts legend, the King of Bling, Bobby George.

    Bobby George. I hugged him. This is what he looked like afterwards (sorry Bobby).
     We have had more than 100 authors an speakers visiting this year, which is rather an achievement.We love putting on events in the shop and without these wonderful people giving up their time to visit the shop, it wouldn't be the same. I started listing them, but quickly realised this was a very long job. So I won't. But here's a few...David Vann, Karen Maitland, Andy Stanton, David Nichols, David Lammy MP, Hayley Campbell, Naomi Stadlen, Zehra Hicks, Nadia Shireen, Mark Watson and the Gruffalo. Thanks to everyone. Really.
Storytelling and Songs for the under 5's have been a real hit this year. Tim has nailed the guitar classics like 'Zoom Zoom Zoom, We're Going To The Moon', and 'The Wheels on the Bus'. But more recently, he's added the Wiggles classic 'Hot Potatoes'.
We started our Local Market in July. We decided that it would be cool to get people who did locally produced stuff (honey, cakes, knitted goods, ceramics, cards, veg and fruit etc) to come and sell it in the shop once a month. So, on the last Sunday of the Month at 10.30am-1.00pm the shop turns into a Local Market. It's had really good months and also it's had slow months, but we think it's a good idea (and so do a lot of other people) and we're going to keep at it next year.

We tried to break a World Record for the World's Largest Reading Group. It was hilarious (for us) and failed magnificently. But Norris McWirter certainly didn't give us much help. However, we did get about 50 people involved and that, I think, is good. We have the systems all set up now for this years effort. Which will happen btw.

I published a book in November. I published a book in November. I thought i'd better mention it twice, because it really is a very exciting development for me. London Tales by Greg Stekelman. It is the greatest book ever published and you should all buy it. It's only £40. Here is a story about how all this came about.

The rather good author Haruki Murakami had a book published in the UK this year, which was all rather exciting. It was called 1Q84 and those cheeky little pumpkins at Random House (his publishers) wouldn't let anyone sell the book until 18th October. Right, we thought, let's have a special shindig with food, film and fun on the eveining of October 17th stay open till midnight and then sell his book. We ticketed this event, (read this cos it is rather good) Fantastically, lots and lots of people wanted to come. It really was a brilliant night and many thanks go to Hungrywolf for their incredible food.
Murakami night at the shop. One of my highlights of the year.
There were loads of other stuff wot happened too. NaNoWriMo, Booker Prize Book Challenge, we have a new Graphic Novels Book Group and a new Children's book group. Knitting Club continues, as does our monthly Boardgames Day.
Plus we had this geezer turn up too;

Thanks for making this year one of the best ever. We love what we do and we can't thank you enough for allowing us to do it .
2012 will be even better.... 


@almacdSE1 said...

I've just moved to Clissold Park, so will come up and buy a book very soon. Not London Tales though; it's forty fucking quid.

Well, not this month anyway...

Li said...

Wow, quite a year for you :-) Best wishes for 2012 - I hope the ball keeps rolling for you over there. With Borders gone here in the US, I'm hoping that more of our small independent bookstores will benefit from increased traffic and sales.

Bear Faced Lady said...

Lovely bookshop. That is all.