We love books, don’t we?
And while many folks store hundreds electronically on their Kindle-like tablets, the vast majority still like to hold the volume in their hands. There is pleasure in having it placed on the bedside cabinet or tucked under a pillow, under your sunglasses on your deckchair or on the empty airplane seat next to you. Finally, whether comfortably curled or still pristine after obsessively gentle treatment, it sits on a shelf, pressed together with others, under or next to, or sometimes at a jaunty angle because you are such a free spirit.
But it is a book! It speaks to you and talks about you to whoever comes browsing your choices. You are smart, discerning, intelligent, adventurous, happy. It’s why you read. It’s what you read. It’s a virtuous circle. Books are life.
And where can you find more books than anywhere else? No, I don’t mean Amazon, I mean libraries. Books and readers. That’s where we go, for the racks, walls and rows of spines and covers. A library is a feast for the intellect, for the heart and for the soul in the same way a beautiful National Trust garden is to those whose fingers and thumbs are stained green by their horticultural artistry.
So, let’s take The Rescuists home! The idea of a book signing came from Holly, the clever young woman who does most of the hard graft on The Rescuists website. And since saying no to Holly is a sign of poor judgement, off I went.
1. Shrewsbury Library, 30th July 2022
Shrewsbury Library is a rare gem. A Grade 1 listed building sitting across from Shrewsbury’s eleventh-century Norman castle. The library itself opened in 1595, though it was also the home of Shrewsbury School between 1550 and 1882. Outside, Charles Darwin sits majestically atop a fine plinth, having attended school in this very building. He looks a tad grumpy to me, something I attribute to never having had the chance to chuckle his way through The Rescuists.
This was my first proper book-signing event and among those who visited were Shrewsbury & Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski and Mila, the girl who inspired me to write the book.
2. Oswestry Library, 3rd December 2022
It was the excellent Siobhan, manager of Oswestry Library who asked if I might extend my duties beyond scribbling my name in copies of the book and instead make myself useful to people with an interest in writing a book themselves, or at least in the obstacle-strewn journey a budding author must undertake. Well-used to obeying female commands, I duly created a PowerPoint presentation and waffled through it to a packed crowd of several that Saturday in Oswestry.
A brief summary of the content is that the difficult process of writing a book turns out to be the easy part compared to engaging a publisher and/or an agent, and then getting your book produced. Actually, publishing can simply be a matter of paying for it to be done, so in effect, anyone can write some old tosh, pay a few thousand and find themselves the proud owner of bound copies of said tosh, stacked in stout brown boxes up in their spare room. A rapidly dwindling circle of friends will soon have to:
a. Feign good grace when handed a copy in spite of protesting that they don’t read much these days, or that they have kept a dark secret that they actually can’t read at all or that a sudden and unexpected bout of blindness renders them incapable of seeing anything more than vague grey shapes
b. Pretend they have read it whenever the dreary author finally corners them sometime later. “Ooh yes, very good! I liked the bit where… people said things and um, something happened, though I forget what exactly. Oh gosh! Is that the time, must go!”
Those who remained conscious reported appreciation and spurred me on to do it again.
And so the tour bus hit the road!
Next stop, Leamington Spa (subject to various permissions and the lifting of restraining orders).