Some 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.