Thursday, February 26, 2009

Important Information

I found out last night that Simon is the 360th most popular name for a boy last year. This is from the list of names registered in the UK.
Names in the top 100 include;
25 Jayden! (I suspect this is the Goody effect)
26 is Logan (the Berry effect we shall call this, or the ...Run effect)
45 is Finley (the Fire Engine is to blame. It's not going to be the Dr's casebook is it!)
there is Zak and Zac in there too, which I suspect High School Musical is responisble for.

For the Girls names
Freya is in at 24 (clearly the Key effect here)
Lexi (!) is at 44 (these are registered names)
Lola is only at 76 (Charlie is at 4)

Tim is now at position 1061 and Timothy is on 650. Come on people.

If you want to know about your name here's the link.

I also found out that Travis the chimpanzee has a wikipedia page. For a moment I thought this was insane. What on earth has Travis done to deserve a mention on Wikipedia. But then I realised that Coleen was on it, so everything's OK.

We've introduced a Book of the Month!!
it's taken a bleedin' long time to eventually come out in paperback but here is the book that we like so much we've dedicated a whole month in promoting.

The Company of Liars by Karen Maitland.
I was lucky enough to get a copy of this book last year and was gripped, entranced, and generally enthralled by this wonderful book. I wrote a review of it on the blog. Here it is . We're selling it at money off!! We want everyone to read this book. Even Coleen and Travis (RIP).

if you're looking to buy some books, I suggest a train journey or a bike ride to Wood Green. Someone told me today there was a really lovely bookshop there.

My Tesco rant will have to wait another day.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Local Stuff

I live in Noel Park. This is a designated conservation area in Wood Green, which means that the buildings are protected and shouldn't be allowed to be altered. This means that the area has kept the look that it was given about 100 years ago. The council are supposed to enforce this, and to make it almost impossible to build extensions, pebbledash the front of the houses or change the windows etc (I hope the council are reading this..). It's dead nice and we're lucky to be there.
Each year there's this thing called the Making a Difference Grant, where (I think) certain boroughs are allocated some cash, and local groups/people propose ideas for where the cash should be spent. These ideas should encompass the whole of the area, not just the individuals who make the suggestion, so bang goes our idea to get free cakes at the shop.
This is a brilliant scheme and some examples of where the grants have gone are;

  • streets getting hanging baskets for flowers
  • a handy person scheme to help senior citizens to get gardening done they can't do themselves
  • a scheme to get young people interested in planting and growing vegetables
  • more play equipment for children
  • and we got some trees planted in our road last year!

Anyway, last year some money was granted to this lovely chap called Padma. He works for (or possibly is) Friendship Global, which is an organization which encourages....wait for friendship. One of things he does is organise for trees to be planted in schools all over the world, called Friendship Trees. The idea of these is that if there's a scuff or an argument between a couple of kids then they get sent to sit under the tree and 'get over themselves'. It sounds a bit hippy dippy, but I love it. He's planted loads of these trees and he's a bit of a legend. He's a local lad too, and he often pops in to cheer my day at the shop.

But I digress... He got some money to light up a tree in the middle of the Noel Park area, and have this tree designated a friendship tree. I'm a bit miffed that I missed the ceremony, but I took this photo so you can see it
Bonkers brilliant and crazy potatoes.
It's like we have a little bit of the South Bank in N22.

I went to a conference yesterday, with my Big Green Bookshop hat on. It was called Haringey Goes Green , and was all about....wait for it... Haringey going green.
The guest speaker was the James Strawbridge, the son of massively moustached man mountain Dick Strawbridge, from the TV show 'It's Not Easy Being Green'. James, was usually seen like this on the show
He was, however sporting a shirt to talk about how a place like Haringey can make a bigger impact, both small scale and big when it comes to going green. I caught his talk, and he was clearly someone who has embraced the idea of green living. He knows about all the issues, both positive and negative, and wasn't afraid to voice his opinions on some controversial issues.
We sold a few books too.
Tim's back at work now. He came back on Friday for a few hours, and was in the shop on Saturday whilst I was going green in Haringey. He makes the odd 'oooh' noise and i've noticed the occasional sharp intake of breath. He tells me that this is the best way of losing weight...having bits removed from his body. It was a varicose vein last week, heaven only know what he has planned for next.
He won't be cycling for a while, that's for sure...

Friday, February 20, 2009

One Year

It was a year ago today that we got the keys to the shop that is now the mighty Big Green Bookshop.

One year....blimey

We'll be having an all day party to celebrate a year since we opened, in a couple of weeks time (the party is on Saturday March 7th, and it's going to be a doozy. Do come along), but it's little anniversaries like this that kinda make you think.

Speaking for myself, I think this has been the best year of my life. The previous year was pretty good, but this year has been incredible. Obviously the biggest thing for me has been this

Incredible, joyous, beautiful, life affirming, sleep depriving, wonderful Freya.

Yeah, the bookshop's been alright too i suppose.

A massive thanks to all of you who have helped keep the good ship BGB on course. It's been a rocky ride, and I suspect there will be other scary mary moments. But we're working our socks off and hopefully if we keep on keeping on, then we'll be here for a few more years yet.

I've deleted a big rant I was going to write about Tesco, so we'll save that for a more appropriate day.

Happy birthday shop.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

You're so Vein, you probably think this op is about you.

Tim had a varicose vein removed yesterday (as well as quarter of his pubic hair, so he enjoyed informing me). He did go to hospital and everything. He might be good at DIY, but I think even this kind of thing was a bit beyond his capabilities.
He is therefore out of action for a few days as he learns how to cycle without screaming, and catches up with all the paperwork that he's promised to do at home.

So the shop is all mine, Mine MINE!! MWAH Ha Ha Ha Ha !!

The voting in the 'What films shall we show to highlight the Wood Green Short Film Festival' was furious and there are 2 clear winners;
1. Persepolis - Based on the brilliant graphic novel by Mariane Satrapi, this is a poignant coming-of-age story based around a precocious and outspoken young Iranian girl that begins during the Islamic Revolution.
2. The Princess Bride - You think that I can summarise this film in 2 sentences?
Heroes, giants, villains, wizards, true love, but not just your basic, average, everyday, ordinary, run-of-the-mill fairy tale. It’s the kind of film that, no matter how many times you’ve seen it, you still enjoy every wonderful scene.

So, we'll be showing those on Monday March 16th and Thursday March 19th respectively. We have 2 more films that we're going to show, and they are;

Wednesday 18th March. The Power of Community- An inspirational story of how the people of Cuba survived the loss of access to oil imports after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. They had to become predominantly self-sufficient in food and other products, and change their economy and lifestyles quickly - yet this was an opportunity for a remarkable re-birth of community spirit. Could it happen here?
we've teamed up with the Sustainable Haringey Network to bring you this film. Sustainable Haringey is an independent informal network for everybody who wants to make Haringey a more sustainable place to be. It brings together groups and individuals who are already making positive contributions, as well as welcoming and encouraging those who would like to do more, or to find out how to.
Friday 20th March. Napoleon Dynamite. This celebration of geek chic splits opinion, but we want to cheer the nerd and hail the awkwardness of adolescence. Heck yes we do! How can our heavy lidded hero win the day? With num-chucks and ligers of course! 82 minutes of understated wonder. We think you might enjoy this.

Anyway, that's what's happening, and it's all free. So Put it in your diaries and come along. All films start at 7.00pm, but get there early to ensure you get the best seats.
On Friday Katie and I baked some almond biscuits and orange biscuits in the shape of hearts

which I gave out to our customers yesterday. Aren't we lovely? We also sold our first copy of the Joy of Sex.
I had a reply from Japan from my email asking if Haruki Murakami was available for an event. here it is.

Dear Simon Key:

Thank you.

Although it is an honour for Mr. Murakami to have won the poll, he is not able to visit England for the time being.

If he has a chance to be there in the future, I guess he shall be willing to comply.

All best,

Txxxxx Sxxxx

I take this as a positive, and will be moving to stage 2 of operation 'Get Haruki Murakami to the Big Green Bookshop'. More details coming up.

On Friday evening, following a very kind invitation, I joined Greg Stekelman
(he wrote a book and we sell lots of it) in a north london pub to help celebrate his birthday. I drank lager and talked to strangers, and had a thoroughly lovely time. He told me that I should link an interview that he did with li'l ol' me on his blog a few weeks ago, so here's the link.

Tomorrow is all about finalising event dates and getting the newsletter out to people on the mailing list.

confirmed so far are

Tom Hodgkinson (March 17th) Talking about The Idle Parent

Karen Maitland (March ?) talking about the brilliant brilliant Company of Liars, as reviewed by us here, and her new Hardback The Owl Killers.

Will Self (June 10th) I suspect he'll be talking about 'just out in paperback' Liver, and anything else he has on his mind.

Joseph D'Lacey and Bill Hussey (May ?) Horrrror with 4 or 5 Rs, they will be joining us to discuss and celebrate their new titles The Garbage Man and The Absence.

There's also Jake Arnott, Mark Billingham, Christopher Brookmyre (all agreed, just awaiting dates) and lots lots more, so keep it Big and Green my lovelies. We're really really trying hard to make this year as exciting as possible.

There's also our first birthday coming up, and we want it to be a cracker. (If anyone fancies themselves as the kind of person who's willing to dress up a Childrens' character rhyming with 'Lazy House' for an hour please email me). There'll be lots of fun for everyone, and we'll give more info out nearer the time.

By the way kids, we've spoken to Maisy Mouse and she said that she'd be delighted to come and visit us to help us celebrate our first birthday!!

Time for tea...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Konichiwa and Howdy

Lynne Featherstone, MP for us, came in this morning. Did you know it's National Storytelling Week this week, and Lynne came in to read stories to a class from Alexandra Primary School.
We had arranged for storytellers to come in on Tuesday and Wednesday as well, but the snow meant that the kids either weren't at school or it was too dicey to get to the shop.
Anyhow today went swimmingly, and Lynne read from Roald Dahl and Benjamin Zephaniah, among others. This picture has been taken by Omeed, who's doing work experience with us (!) for a couple of weeks.

Today is my work from home day, but I thought it would be good to go to the shop at about 8ish this morning just to make sure it looked pretty, and Tim with his dodgy legs can't go too quick in the snow. After that I retired to the flat, stopping once on the way home to photograph this
I deduce a one legged man was taking his pet parrot for a walk, Watson.

Anyway, the rest of the day has been spent pulling together a few of the events we've got lined up for the next few months. All quite exciting really.

If you were with us last May you might remember the vote we had to decide which author to try and get to the Big Green Bookshop. Haruki Murakami won by a landslide (Scott Pack might have voted for him on more than one computer).
I made some tentative enquiries last year, only to be told he had no plans to come to the UK.
Well now is a new year, and so we're going for him again. But this time, we're really going for it. On January 8th, I got a message from Toby, a facebook friend, with information about his agent in Japan, New York and the UK. I've sent an email today to 2 of these people. The message went something like this.

Hello xxxxxx

allow me to introduce myself. My name is Simon Key, and i'm the co-owner of the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green, London, England. The shop has been open for almost a year now and we constantly strive to provide our customers with the most exciting and entertaining events and author signings.
We have a blog, called Open a Bookshop, What Could Possibly Go Wrong, which has charted our progress from having the idea to open a bookshop. The Blog has featured in the Guardian and Independent Newspapers and has a very strong following.
Last May we ran a poll to ask which author our customers would like to see at the shop. The list of possibles included such luminaries as Stephen King, Stan Lee, Don Delillo and Haruki Murakami. The good news is the Haruki won by a landslide.
I was told that he was busy last year and had no plans to visit the United Kingdom, but now i'm writing to discuss the possibility of a visit to our bookshop sometime this year. We have a fanatastic line-up of events already planned, but i'm sure that an audience with Haruki, or something similar would be a real highlight.

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future,

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Best Wishes,
Simon Key

So, stage 1 complete.
I'll let you know what replies I get.

FinallyThis is a Plantlock. It is situated right in the middle of the area next to our shop that we used to spend a lot of time and energy trying to stop people parking their stoopid cars. Now they can't. But you can lock your eco friendly bike to it, and also you can grow plants in it. The Front Yard Company produce them, and they're great. If anyone wants to advertise on the side of it, let us know.

Keep voting for what film you want us to show....

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A Filmy Votey Thingy

we're doing lots of non book events type activities at the moment.

One of them is that we're working in conjunction with the wonderful Haringey Council to raise the profile of the Wood Green International Short Film Festival.
This is another thing that Wood Green should be very proud of, and as such we want to help highlight it's wonders.
To this end, we're going to be turning into a cinema for a week from the 16th to the 19th of March. Each night we'll be showing a film in the shop for free (or close to free) to our customers. We'll even provide popcorn (sweet and salty)
Now we know what 2 of the films are going to be, but we want you to decide the other 2 from this longlist. Please feel free to vote and please encourage others to vote too.
You can also diss the longlist. I'm rhino like in my skin thickness.
The Filmy Votey Thingy is up there on the right.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Write a blog today without using the word 'Sno....

The man who's walking in the air.
Orhan Pamuk's bestselling book
Cocaine is often referred to as this
It's a popular beer in China
Lepoards, Lions and Rabbits can all be prefixed with this
John ..., the English fast bowler of the seventies
C P ...., Scientist and novelist
there won't be any in Africa this Christmas
.... Patrol. Dreadful Scottish band, the reason the 'skip' button was invented.
It's falling on Cedars
Miss Smilla had feelings for it
Bryan Tyler played him in cult classic film 'The Warriors'
It can be artificial
Peas, drops and drifts.
It's Lola's favourite and her best.
It's a place in Bosworth, Missouri (64623)
It's a place in Hixton Wisconsin (54635)
It's a place is Berrien, Michigan (49101)
...books, a marvellous independent publishers.

I'll stop now. I do tend to drift occasionaly.