Monday, November 24, 2008

Oh, what a pretty bookshop

This is the title of the email we sent to our newsletter/bookgroup mailing list asking (as we are often found doing) for any spare xmas decorations, and also asking for volunteers to deliver leaflets in the area.
Once again we've had an amazing response and we've had bags and bags of tinsel and baubels being dropped into the shop over the last few days. There's more to come as well!
Also, our kind kind customers have also been picking up leaflets to deliver, and the map of the area that I have with the completed roads is filling nicely. I still have loads more to do, but it's been a real help.
The local newspaper has offered to put an article in this week asking for decorations and leafleting volunteers on our behalf, so that's all super duper. We're gonna be well festive.
Anyhow, this is how far we've got with the shop...
Tim's been up the ladder again putting lights on the gables and a spotlight under the sign. People can see clearly the Big Green oksho from the High Road.

The windows aren't quite finished yet, but doesn't it look inviting?

'OOooh, what a pretty bookshop. I simply must go in and explore.

For those of you who know the shop, this is where fiction was. We've made an extra 7 bookcases of display, so that people won't have to look to hard to find all those gorgeous presents.

Moleskines, Running Press boxes, Barak Obama, themanwhofellasleep. We've got it all! But I can't quite see those little cards on the shelves...

We asked our friends/customers to let us know what book they really wanted for xmas and why, and we made cards like this for the ones that we thought were the best.The photos were obtained from various sources, all approved of course.

Even the wonderful and anonymous Horace Bent took time to send in his festive choice.

There's still time to send in your own choice. Don't be shy.

We made our own signs in a thrifty and frugal kind of way.

We've been able to turn another 2 bookcases over to the kids section as there are so many books that we think deserve a faceout.

This is another West/Key invention. We don't have much room in the shop so Tim's made a second tier for our tables. This picture doesn't show it really clearly, but there's a smaller table on a bigger table, so you can display more books. Clever eh?

And ultimately, this is what we're hoping all the hard work will result in. Again and again and again please...

Let us know what you think, or if you have any suggestions.
I've started writing a post which seems to be getting out of control, so apologies for the lack of anything new to read recently.

I'm taking some photos of the festived up shop today so i'll add them on tomorrow. Whoopee do

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Adverts on the Telly

do you really expect me to
a. believe Richard (I call him Dick) Hammond (Head), as he talks about a 'perfect christmas' whilst being on a imaginary sledge in the North Pole. Careful one of the Huskies doesn't blow out Dick.
b. believe Dick bumps into Denise Van Outen by the fish counter IN MORRISONS, and assume they know what each other is doing for xmas
c. Understand Nick Hancock's explanation of how to claim back £20, after spending £40 a week for the next 4 weeks and keeping your receipts 'it couldn't be easier'.

have you seen the latest Iceland advert with the frankly horrible (thankfully she hasn't got a biog this year) Kerry Catona, and the frankly deluded Jason Donovan singing 'It's Cold Outside'. Here it is.

Can you seriously imagine Jason popping in to his local Iceland, to buy reconstructed prawn rings at 2 for a fiver. No

Marks and Spencers
Shut up shut up shut up
Real Life now please. I thought that Take that were 'Shine' ing for Morrison's last year?

Let's not talk about The Spice Girls twatting about in Tesco last year, or those cock awful celeb voiceovers telling us we can get Parky for half price at Smith's

I'm just about to get to the point, so thanks for bearing with me.

Celebrities (for that is how they earn their money), who have no knowledge of the product they're flogging, should not ever ever ever be encouraged to sell products that they have no knowledge about
1. Hammond- he can drive a car fast. And his hair is thick and lustrous, and he's smaller than Clarkson. That's It. Not and expert on Turkey.
2. Denise van Outen is amusing in the same way that my friends are amusing in the pub, she has a large voice and she's one of the lads (apparently). No fish expertise there then.
3. Nick Hancock. Can be rude and insulting, and supports Stoke. So not the perfect person to explain discounts then.
4. Kerry i've got nothing
5. Jason Donovan seems like a nice chap, but hardly likely to fall for the charms of Katona.
6.Take That. Why why why are they ever likely to pop over to visit Twiggy and that tool from Here'say.

Why are we so obsessed by what other people who happen to be on telly think. I understand if they have something interesting to say about stuff they're on telly about. Are we that much of a bunch of silly sausages to think they will guide our lives .
I think Alan Carr is funny, and also I think Dawn French has been funny at least 3 times in the last 28 years. But that's what they do, and there it is. Celebrate that, but don't buy a Chocolate Orange because she can fit one in her mouth. Buy one because it's yummy o'reilly with a sugar plum banana on top.
Alan Carr's life is probably as fascinating as yours, but nobody's given you half a million to talk to someone for 6 weeks whilst they write it down and make it into a book.
My booky wooky was the bestselling book of last xmas, but I feel the winds of change'a'coming.
Maybe not this year or next year. But one day soon, I'm Strictly a Celebrity on Ice and my Big Brother Can't Cut Hair or Write Crime Novels' will be a thing of the past.

But hopefully this piece of TV genius will remain


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ooh Ahh, just a little Bet, Ooh Aah just a Little Bet More...

So the bookish betting bonanza is about to begin.
There are 3 contestants.

1. Simon 'spongebob' Key
2. Scott 'the bulldog' Pack
3. Gary 'Fat Tuesday' Davidson.

A reminder that we'll be each waging a(imaginary) quid each day on something, announcing it on our blogs before 1pm, and proving how stupid it is to waste money on gambling.

I'll try and keep a running total of how North London's hairiest is doing for you all to ignore.

In other news, totally unrelated (again) to books, we bought a Bumbo seat for Freya today. Look at how lovely she is.
Yes, she is by far the prettiest baby ever to have existed, isn't she.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

John Sinclair is big leggy

Thursday saw the much anticipated visit of the legendary John Sinclair to the legendary Big Green Bookshop. The hardest working poet/ jazz afficionado/ doobie smoker/ founder of the White Panther movement in showbusiness was not to dissapoint anyone on the night. He may have startled the 9year old girl who turned up with her mother to wish Happy Birthday to her sister (who didn't show up), but I don't think she was dissapointed.
John Sinclair has the kind of voice that comes from a lifetime of living, and his poetry drawled and burst from him with an exuhberence and a confidence that clearly comes from somebody who truly lives the life he wants to. He's clearly a very contented person (and considerably taller than i'd suspected), and he ran through a series of poems demonstrating his colourful life. He was more then ably assisted by the very very talented freeofrm jazz bass player Jair-Rohm Parker Wells, who was lucky enough to be in the country this week.
Here they both are..
Many thanks to Headpress, John, Jair-Rohm and the audience for making it a lovely night.

The shop's looking lovely at the moment. You really should all visit and spend a fortune on all the books we've got in to tempt you.
No really.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You'd Better, you'd Better, You Bet.

I like a little flutter, as i've mentioned on 43 occasions since this blog started. I've had one big big win in my life. A four horse acculmulator came in and my £1 bet returned over £1000. In the back of my mind, if I lose a bet I think to myself, 'we'll i've still got £999/£998/£997 to play with'. I suspect though that as this bet was about 4 years ago that figure is considerably lower (and of course all the losses i've made before this big win were completely forgotten).
That said, I like a flutter. And so does Scott Pack, who's excellent blog Me and My Big Mouth is essential reading. With this in mind, we've come up with a betting competition, for which we'd like to invite anyone who'd like to take part. It's a virtual game so no money need be spent.

It begins next Monday
Every day each contener will recommend one bet to the sum of £1. They will post the bet on their blogs by 1pm each day. It can be anything and you can take the odds at the time you bet, or you can take a starting price (just like you would in real life).
The competition will run right up till the FA Cup final next year. The player with the biggest profit (or, more likely, the smallest loss!) will win this trophy.or one fairly similar.

There'll be prizes throughout as well, including the person leading at christmas will be getting a chocolate bar from all the other competitors (i'm a big fan of the crunchie by the way).

Please let me know if you'd like to play.

NB A person should not gamble with an amount that the individual does not know they can live without. It is important that people not spend any money they cannot afford to lose, because it is very possible that they may lose this money and not hit their dreams of winning a jackpot or large amount in the gambling games in which they take part. As a result, a person who gambles more than they can afford can lose not only their money and possessions, but also the people and things that are most important to them if the addiction is too strong. Not all gamblers are addicted to gambling, but it can take over a person’s life, if they are not careful. Moderation is the key when it comes to gambling.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Marvellous Marvellous Book

We sell this book right. I think we're the only bookshop in the UK that sells it. That's because it's no longer in print. We order it direct from the author. His name is Greg. Greg Stekelman. He's also known as themanwhofellasleep, although his name's Greg. Greg Stekelman.
This is his book.
We sell this book to lots of people, and quite right too. It's wonderful, strange, psychotic, surreal, unique and very funny.
It takes the form of a journal, and centres around an outwardly normal chap (themanwhofellasleep), who is surrounded by the most extraordinary of people and situations. Are they real or just a dream? The boundaries are blurred, and life goes on. This is interspersed by some rather good cartoons (drawn by Greg), and also included within the story are his 'Things Overheard on the Tube', which is now included in Time Out magazine each week (Michael Holden's All Ears has a lot to be grateful for). It all makes for a great book, and it's ashame that not more people can get hold of it. Until now of course. because you can get it from us!
Anyway I asked Greg if he'd be interviewed to talk a bit about the book and such and this is what he had to say.

Hello Greg,

If you’re sitting comfortably, then we’ll begin.

The obvious first question is how would you describe a year in the life of Themanwhofellasleep?

That's always a tough question. It's a funny, surreal, depressing, plotless journey through a year in the life of a character. Who is based on me, but taken to ridiculous extremes. There are doodles and drawing and exciting encounters with celebrities. There's snippets of gossip overheard on the underground and a series of quite sad jokes. It's an ideal gift for a young man going through some kind of identity crisis.

The book was taken from your hugely successful website How easy was it to turn your website into a book.

I was approached about turning the website into a book, and I think at first everyone assumed I'd just do a compendium of the website – like they have done with The Onion, or something like that. Basically, a toilet book. But I figured that I might never have the chance to publish a book again, so I thought I'd be a bit more ambitious and write a novel based on material on the website. It took me about six months to write additional material for the book and weave some vague sense of a story. Not that there's much in terms of plot or narrative, but I think the book does hold together as a novel in its atmosphere and mood. About half the book was taken from the website and half was new material. Plus I did about twenty new illustrations.

Is there intelligent life in outer space

Statistically, it's possible, but I don't think there's life in the universe anywhere near Earth, so it's a bit irrelevant. There are probably some microbes or marsupials a few trillion light years away. I doubt that they know about us.

Have you got any other projects on the go at the moment?

I've always got a few ideas going, but nothing major. I'm trying to write some comedy for the BBC and I keep getting interviewed by strange foreign magazines. I'd like to write another novel at some point, but I don't really want to repeat myself and do something similar to what I've done already. I admire people who can just churn stuff out, because if I'm not enjoying writing something, I just give up.

Your book is full of celebrities, in very normal situations. Usually they pop round to TMWFAs house for tea or to moan about everyday things. Is this how you like to see celebs.

I'm quite fascinated by celebrities, and the hierarchy of celebrity, from A-list to Z-list. I'm always interested in people on the borderline of fame, guys who are in indie bands that get a lot of coverage in the NME, but are still signing on at their local benefit office. Or former soap stars who end up working in pubs, knowing that one in every ten customers is going to recognise them. I think there's the dream that once you're famous your life is going to be totally transformed, that you leave the mortal world and enter the glossy world of Hello and Heat, never to return. And of course, fame isn't really like that. In the book, I just liked the idea of living out my fantasies and being surrounded by celebs.

You also do ‘Overheard Underground’ in Time Out magazine. How did you get that gig.

I've been doing it on my website for many years. I always used to hear funny/weird things on the tube and started collecting them on the website. And then about 4 years ago Time Out approached me about using the quotes on a weekly basis – I get almost no money for it, but it's good publicity for the website.

What did you want to be when you were younger.

A comic artist. My teenage years weren't very happy, so I threw myself into the world of American comics and superheroes. My dad's an artist – his paintings were on The Antiques Roadshow the other week – and so I grew up sketching and doodling on any spare scrap of paper. But you have to be really versatile to be a comic artist – you have to be able to draw anything from any angle, whereas I was only any good at drawing muscled men in costumes from a full-frontal view. Which gets a bit boring after a while. I still have an amazing amount of respect for good comic artists. There are a lot of crap artists, but the good ones are geniuses. It annoys me that Damien Hirst makes more money than David Mazzuchelli.

I’ve been trying to think of something similar to TMWFA, or of a similar style, but the nearest I can come up with is Mark Leyner (an author who mixes reality and absurdity in a similar way). Do you feel like a pioneer?

In some ways. I think every writer, artist or musician is quite vain and thinks that they're unique. I'm sure that Fall Out Boy or The Kooks honestly believe that they're doing something special, when clearly they aren't. I have my influences, from Woody Allen to Borges and I know that they've informed what I do, but I'd like to think the book is quite original anyway. In some ways that's a bad thing, because within the book industry it helps to have reference points, so you can say: “Oh, it's like Michael Chabon, but with a twist of Martin Amis” whereas I can't really say that. So, yes, I feel like a bit of a pioneer, if only by default.

What would be your ideal music festival line up be

That's quite hard. I don't really go to festivals nowadays. I prefer to sit at home and resent people. In my early 20s I was a massive Manic Street Preachers fan, and even though they've disappointed me for many years and I've sort of outgrown them, I'd quite like to see them playing live. I'd make them all diet for a few months first though. My favourite albums are the little lo-fi gems that Stephen Jones of BabyBird did before his band got famous, so I'd make some room for him to play a solo slot. Who else? Adam Green. The Red House Painters. Ella Fitzgerald (even though she's dead. She's still better than Leona Lewis), David Bowie, The Kinks, The Silver Jews, The Walkmen. And lots more. I'd also demand a supergroup made up of my favourite TV characters, fronted by Patrick McGoohan as The Prisoner. They'de play free-jazz.

How can we get hold of your wonderful book?

At the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green. Or via my website, but I don't take Paypal. So there.

Thanks Greg.

So there you have it.

It was a horrible cold and windy day, and I have a cold and i'm feeling a bit sorry for myself.
We were busy in the shop though.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Up the Arse

On Thursday we welcomed Manchester's Queer Vegan poet Dominic Berry to the shop for the London launch of his new collection of poetry 'Tomorrow I Will Go Dancing'. It was a great evening and after the success of our last poetry event with Myra Schneider, I'd hoped that someone (anyone) from one (any) of our local poetry societies would be brave enough to break out of the safety of their prospective clubs and join us. Alas, despite of very good crowd, they weren't part of the audience.
Here's Dominic, posing beautifully for the camera. He was joined by another poet (from Liverpool) John Leyland, and together the evening was a right old corker.

And so to today's non bookshop event.

I was very very lucky to be invited by my very good friend Alister to watch Arsenal play Manchester United at the Emirates today.
Flippin' eck. We joined the throng on our way to the ground, and the atmosphere was electric. There wasn't a really positve attitude toward Arsenals chances, and I have to say I wasn't expecting Mr Wenger's red and white army to produce the goods.
The stadium is spectacular and over 60,000 fans turned up to watch.

United started as expected, and within 30 seconds had won an indirect free kick inside the penalty area , and from then on poured forward and had countless chances. Rooney was as ugly as I expected, meaning he had a really ugly attitude and was constantly sulking and moaning to the ref. Berbatov was sublime at times, and Ronaldo was given all the protection in the world by the suspiciously biased ref. Please bear in mind I don't support Arsenal (the mighty Bristol City continue their charge with a 1-0 win today), but they played with a great passion and Nasri was brilliant. It was against the run of play when The Arse scored, but Nasri's deflected goal wasn't a huge surprise. There could have been 5 goals beforehand. Half time came and Alister looked pensive.
The second half was as fast paced and exciting as the first and Arsenal scored again early on when Nasri knocked in a great shot. The Arse were beginning to enjoy themselves and the speedy Theo Walcott and the much under rated Bendtner were very dangerous, and could have put a goal or two more in.
In the style of all big football matches Arsenal then decided that holding on to a 2-0 lead was the thing to do, and United pressed some more.
In the last couple of minutes of normal time, the very unpleasant Raphael scored a cracking goal, and then the 4th official held up the board that announced 6 minutes of added time.
Arsenal held on and probably deserved it.
Here's Alister a relieved man.

I got into the spirit of things too.

A brilliant game, and a brilliant day.
I have an announcemant regarding my poor betting ability on Monday, so hold onto your hats for that.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Baracking around the Christmas Tree

Our first sale today was for 3 copies of Dreams From My Father and a copy of The Audacity of Hope, all by one jolly happy lady, who was singing a song as she walked through the door about Obama. I think she'd made it up at about 4 o'clock this morning. It went something like;

'lovely lovely Obama,
it's so wonderful.
I'm sooo happy,
Obama Obama'

It was super. I'm glad I got a load more in. We haven't sold that many John McCain books.

We've started ordering lots of books now and it's really really scary. I don't know whether to stock the hilarious Alan Carr book, or the dreadful looking Fern; my story. But i'm definitely not stocking Clarkson, Hammond or May. I may crack and order Beedle the Bard, but Dawn French is definitely off the menu. Celeb biogs in general aren't really doing it for me. Tesco's and Smith's rely on these at stupid prices to get people in to buy more value pasta shells or copies of Heat. Then they're considered bestsellers, and it encourages more people to get ghostwriters to write more tatt the following year. Smashing. We don't actually have a biography section in the shop any more. The books that would traditionally go in this section are scattered around the shop. So for example, the 'misery memoirs' are kept in self help, biographies of Hunter S Thompson and George Orwell are next to the authors' fiction and so on... Not great if you want to browse the biography section, but it seems to work.

Art...nows there's a tricky one at xmas. We don't have a big art section at the moment, but this is the one time of the year when big expensive photo books and the like do well. But this is where it gets scary. They're big and expensive. A browsers paradise, which means you may need a 'viewing copy'. Which means you ave to sell a cart load to make some money. But £35 for a big expensive photo book is alsways nice to get. What a dilemma.

Kids. That's a bit easier. Order loads and loads and loads, and display them in a friendly easy way.(I know it's not as simple as that really)

Fiction. Hardbacks are not my friends, but maybe it's the time of year to let bygones be bygones. I've got a few coming in.

Cookery. Here's one of my favourite sections in the shop, and one that explodes at xmas. We've got some gorgeous books coming in, and some old favourites.

I'll stop there, as there's a lot of sections to wade through, and it is getting a bit tedious isn't it.

We're going to transform the shop into a grotto of yuletide joy next week (or the week after), so i'll take some photos for then.

We have Dominic Berry, in tomorrow for the London launch of Tomorrow I Will Go Dancing. He's a tippety top poet, who's had some rave review for his performances, so it should be a corker.

I've stuck a quid on Celtic to beat Man Utd tonight at 9/2. I also have a quid on them to win 2-1 at 16/1.

Saturday, November 01, 2008