Atlum Schema

tree house windowBack at the end of March, we were honoured at the Tree House to host the launch of Year 0, the new album by Atlum Schema, aka the lovely Andy Mort.  The launch was a live internet stream – I spent part of the evening in the office watching it on my laptop so that I could see my bookshop being streamed live around the world!  There were people in Brazil watching, I forget where else…  But I only did that for a bit and for the fun of it, as the main thrill was experiencing a great night of live music at the bookshop.  It was organised and filmed by Rob of Redwood Photography and Richard Harrison, who have also been filming the Big Comfy Sessions that I’ve posted about before.

Andy has now edited the footage of the evening and has released videos of some of the songs – here are three.  It really was a fabulous night – the music was beautiful, as you can now hear, and see how pretty the Tree House looked!  We must get hold of lots of fairy lights…

 

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Burgled!

Our household gods.  Not to be messed with.
Our household gods. Not to be messed with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not such a good day today.  Not usually here on a Sunday morning, but was looking for a quiet  place to get some work done (I do some academic work alongside the bookshop), and discovered the till and laptop missing from the shop.  £60 float in the till, which may not sound a lot but is a day’s takings, and the laptop was fairly new.  The worst part is that the building now feels vulnerable – we think we know how they got in (we certainly know how they got out), so security can be tightened, but it’s not a great feeling.  And the value of the stolen goods, in terms of us replacing them, is around £550, which we certainly don’t have.

So we will be working without a till for a bit, and I will be bringing my laptop from home.  I should have been less complacent about the chances of someone breaking in!  It could have been so much worse – no damage to the building, so no repairs, and nothing else of value for anyone to steal, and I don’t think there was anything precious on the laptop that isn’t backed up, so we’ll survive – just a bit of a blow after starting to feel so positive again!

Anyway, if you see signs of heightened security in the way we operate – including possibly being a bit less hospitable in terms of letting people come in to use the loo! – please bear with us.

There’s always something.  Here’s some Nick Cave magic to cheer us all up.  We No Who U R.  He’s scary and he’s on our side, so if anyone out there feels like burgling us again, you’ll have him to answer to!  And Warren Ellis.  You’ve been warned.

So needy!

Thank you to Ben Cook and Lyle Jackson for writing and designing this.  The poster is in our window, in case you've never noticed!

Now that we are marching on with confidence (ahem…), there are lots of things that need doing in the shop.  Sadly many of them involve money, of which we don’t have very much, but I thought I would post a list here of items and services that we need, just in case anyone has things lying around or a wants to help in any way.  We will of course just buy and do things as we can afford to, but there’s no harm in asking!  I’m getting cheekier in my old age.

I would also like to plan a work party soon – we have some picture frames to paint, I’d like to paint a blackboard on the wall where we could write the events that are happening, and a few other bits and pieces that need doing; it will probably be a Sunday, so let me know if you’d be interested and we’ll get a date sorted out.  I have paint (for frames and blackboard).

Anyway, here is the list, and if you have any other bits and pieces that you think we might be able to use either practically or for decoration, we’d be grateful!  I will also do a trawl of the local charity shops, but it’s hard to find time at the moment.

Things the shop needs:

Fairy lights (inc. one set of flashing ones)

Two platform trolleys

Rugs

Low bookcases (freestanding)

Lamps – floor, table, desk

Projector stand

Glass jars (large) and/or tins for biscuits (to offer with coffee, not for me to eat…ahem…)

Cake plates with clear dome covers (as above…)

Cutlery – especially teaspoons

Crockery – bowls, plates, we have all sorts of uses for such things! And we love mismatched things.

Water filter jug (Brita)

Postage scales (we’re now starting to sell things on eBay)

Dishwasher (and someone to plumb it in!) – not sure if this is possible, but there is a space in the kitchen – I have no understanding of plumbing.

 

Services we need – we can pay people in books or event tickets!:

Putting up a shelf into concrete wall (a very groovy shelf), and maybe a couple of shelves in the office (we have the shelves)

Removing a strip light from ceiling, replacing spotlights

Someone to clean my house!!  (haha…)

 

Things we need funds for:

Bookmarks

Carrier bags

Business cards

Piano tuner (we have a piano tuner, just need to be able to pay him!)

 

Mainly, though, we hope people will keep spreading the word.  The revenue will grow, I am sure – it’s pretty healthy, but we really need to take half as much again each week as we currently do – twice as much if I am to take a wage, which eventually I would like to do, as it’s hard to earn money elsewhere and keep doing this.

If you feel like singing a song…

Tree House statement design v2Some of you already know this, via Facebook and/or Twitter, but in the light of much moral support and the green light from the landlord, I have decided to keep the Tree House open.  It’s not going to be easy – for me personally or financially – but it seems the right thing to do, and sometimes I find myself capable of doing the right thing!  Not always…but I do think this is the right thing.  I could spend weeks weighing up the pros and cons and not achieve a rational answer, but I’ve always been someone who goes with their heart, and while it often gets me into trouble, it is simply who I am, and I’m slowly – painfully slowly – learning to accept that.  Others may have a harder time accepting it, and I fully understand that!

We have a great little space in the heart of Kenilworth, and now that the decision has been made, I am thinking hard about how to make the most of the Tree House as a venue – more on all of that later.  I need to be bold, I think.  One of the things that decided me that the Tree House needed to continue was the Big Comfy Sessions that have been filmed there (a few more in the pipeline too).  These are a temporary feature, until Michael McEntee opens his Big Comfy Bookshop at Fargo Village in Coventry at the end of September (very exciting!), and the Tree House has just been the venue for the recordings, but they have shown me the potential for cool and groovy things that the Tree House has.  We need more cool things happening!  Musical or otherwise.

I will also resurrect the Film Club, which has languished since my right hand man in that venture left in January.  There is still a huge void there, as I am a bit rubbish when it comes to films, and I miss the input of a knowledgeable, passionate, energetic person (who also had a great collection of films to share with us!) – but I have a longish and pretty varied list of films I plan to show (from Mary Poppins to Les Amants du Pont-Neuf with all sorts in between).  We can’t afford to renew the licence yet though, so that’s the next target!

I also have offers of help with poetry nights and open mic music nights, and am working on getting some more musicians to come and perform.  But I also want to shift the balance a bit, and start some more literary things.  The focus of the bookshop needs to be bookish – it was set up to counter the anti-intellectualism I see in society, and I want to find creative ways to do that.

We are also increasing our commitment to charity.  We are non-profit, but we haven’t made any profit yet, so have not been doing much in terms of giving to charity!  But we had a coffee morning for Helen Ley Care Centre earlier this month, and have carried on with a collecting tin – the day of the coffee morning raised £120, and if we can keep doing little things throughout the month, we can at least give this sort of amount monthly to charity.  In July we will be supporting Zoe’s Place baby hospice in Coventry, and in August it will be the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance – again, more in later posts.

More significantly, I want to ally the bookshop to the Woodland Trust.  There is lots to say about this, but in the longer term, that’s the charity I want the bookshop to support.  I shall wax passionate at another time, but its aims are intrinsic to the ethos of the Tree House (there is the word Tree in the name for a reason!).

I am rambling, so will shut up.  So much to think about and plan, not least how I am personally going to survive financially and emotionally!  But the Tree House really has already become a lovely social hub, a community of caring, friendly, committed people, who want to help the place to thrive.  I really think it can thrive, and with their help, I am sure it will.

A friend gave me this song about a year ago as the bookshop’s signature song, and it still encourages me to keep going forward during the dark times.  Thank you Ben.

 

Big Comfy Cover – Chains sing Carole King

Gill Sans poster (2)Perfect for a Sunday morning…

I recently posted about Chains‘ visit to the Tree House to record a video for the Big Comfy Sessions.  Musicians always perform one of their own songs and one cover – I’ve already posted their own song; their cover was Carole King’s glorious Will You Love Me Tomorrow?, co-written with Gerry Goffin who died this week, and did a very fine job.  They also found a great use for our generally unwanted copies of Fifty Shades of Grey.

The Big Comfy Sessions are organised by the Big Comfy Bookshop, soon to be opening at the new Fargo Village development in Coventry and using our shop as a venue in the meantime.  If you want to support the Big Comfy Bookshop (and why wouldn’t you?), Michael, its owner, currently has a crowdfunding project on the go – visit the site for more details.

In the meantime, here are Chains.  Just beautiful.  And funny.  Enjoy.

Chains, ‘All Up To Me’ and groovy Saturdays

Gill Sans poster (2)Last Saturday, the fabulous Chains came and recorded a music video at the Tree House.  You may remember that Wes Finch came…then Speak, Brother came…and last weekend it was Chains’ turn to get the Big Comfy Sessions treatment.  They were fabulous, recording their own song All Up To Me and a beautiful cover of Carole King’s magical Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.  Chains, aka Kate and Ben, are also very lovely people, which made it all the more wondrous.

The Big Comfy Bookshop will be opening in September at the new Fargo Village development in Coventry, and until then its owner Michael is using our shop as the venue for his Big Comfy Sessions.  They are filmed by Rob of  Redwood Photography under the aegis of Richard Harrison – it’s all very groovy, and I’ll miss it when the venture moves to its own premises!

Michael McEntee, owner of the Big Comfy Bookshop, has set up a crowdfunding project to help get his new premises off the ground, so do make a pledge if you’d like to support another community bookshop a bit like ours.  It’s great to have a new brother on the way!

But in the meantime, here are Chains – and for good measure, the previous two videos as well, as you can’t have too much grooviness on a Saturday, and they are all *amazing*.  How much fun can you have in a bookshop?  Loads, clearly.

First anniversary

I saw this sign and had to apply...
I saw this sign and had to apply…

Today is the first anniversary of the date on which I took over the premises at Abbey End.  We opened about six weeks later.  So much has happened in the last year…not all of it good, but it’s been an extraordinary year.

We are having a social on Friday evening – we had one recently, and it was a great success, so we are having another one.  If you are at a loose end, just turn up with a bottle of something, maybe some snacks, and £2 as a donation to Tree House funds – just a chance to meet new people (and ones some of you will already know!) and have a drink and a chat in comfortable surroundings, a civilised alternative to the pub.  You may be watching football, of course – Spain v Holland at 8pm, I think – and I can’t promise a football-free zone (must remember to get bunting…), but if you’re not into football, come and socialise at the Tree House, and celebrate one year of having an indoor home (it was a great relief after a few weeks on Kenilworth market!).