Tomorrow, the UK goes to the polls to decide whether or not we will remain part of the European Union. I really hope we stay in, but whatever happens, we will always be a part of Europe, whether or not we belong to the EU. There will be difficulties to overcome either way, but I read this article by Clive James this morning, and it conveys so beautifully why I so strongly want to stay. Clive James is, of course, Australian, but has spent most of his adult life in Europe, and this essay is a glorious study of what it means to be a part of European culture and enriched by it, and it’s the cultural ties that make me want to stay more than any other issues. It takes a lot of work to make a union successful, but some unions are worth working for. This article is just beautiful – and engaging and witty in a way that only the great Clive James can be. The reason I am not a writer is that I can’t write like this, and it doesn’t seem worth doing anything less.
So do read it – click on the photo below. Regardless of the referendum, it’s a brilliant study of European culture and what it means both to be a part of it and to be inspired and influenced by it. Amidst all the posturing and painfully superficial internet memes, this piece shines like the sun.
Today is Charles Dickens’ birthday (b.1812). One of the things I need to do more in the bookshop is celebrate literature! One of the things that seems to get lost in all the furore of trying to make ends meet is the purpose of having a bookshop at all – to promote, enjoy, share, explore and honour the literary creative process and its importance to civilisation.
As a small gesture towards promoting one of our very greatest novelists – our greatest? – anyone who buys a novel by Dickens today can choose another novel up to the value of £2 free.
In other news – I have decided that for the next few weeks the Film Club will meet on Sunday afternoons only. Attendance on Thursday evenings has been very low, and with the weather persisting in its evil ways I think it might be better to establish the Sunday afternoon films and wait until the evenings are a bit more inviting before attempting a regular weekday evening screening. We may still have the occasional film! And the selection of films on Sundays may broaden slightly, though the emphasis will still be on classics or gentler films – with the odd challenge thrown in!
We now have a little pile of books wrapped in brown paper with a nice red ribbon – the start of our ‘blind date with a novel’ feature. I have chosen a few paperback novels to wrap, and written a few words on the paper to give a very general indication of the kind of book hidden within. For those times when you can’t decide what to read, or are in the mood for a surprise or a literary adventure. A bit of fun, great for a wet weekend!
In the pipeline: more music, with some excellent local bands keen to come and play as well as those from further afield, some more storytelling, some adventures with exotic animals, and a week of celebrations for Shakespeare‘s birthday in April. And more!
Still no premises, but I’m developing lots of lovely ideas, building on the launch of the Film Club in May. There are two or three potential venues in the town centre, and I am hoping that the article in this week’s Kenilworth Weekly News will have aroused some level of interest, however small. These ideas are a way of establishing the project even in the absence of a physical shop. It may even be that the best thing is to use other venues for these clubs and activities, and then I will only need a small site for the bookshop – maybe there is a business in Kenilworth that has some space they would like to sublet, even temporarily until I can find suitable permanent premises! That would be great.
Here are some of the events I am thinking of setting up:
The Tree House Story Club – afternoons of stories and bookish activities for pre-school children
Tree House Talks – talks and discussions mostly on art and its history, though volunteers for talks on other subjects always welcome
The Tree House Senior Citizen Book Swap – afternoons for sharing books and chatting over tea and cake
The Tree House Film Festival – a day at the movies, a mixture of short films and feature films, including talks and discussion
The Tree House literary festival – talks, writing workshops, book discussion
Student equivalents of both the above, to engage university students with The Tree House
All of these could be accompanied by book sales – I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that the main aim is to open a second-hand bookshop!