Fourteen years ago I gave birth to twins, Lily and Grace and along with the hard work, excitement, exhaustion and complete bewilderment, came the moment when I had to look after the new babies on my own. I had to try and find my own routine, remember to feed them and try not forget where I left them.
Five days ago I gave birth to a new baby, Bookbugs and Dragon Tales and yesterday Daddy’s Paternity Leave ended and I was left holding the baby once again and trying very hard not to drop it.
Dan and I are a partnership in every sense of the word. We always say that together we make one complete human adult and that has seen us through most things. We fill in the gaps in each others knowledge, personalities and housekeeping skills and know each other so well that we can pre-empt where those gaps might be and we seem to get away with it. It hasn’t been difficult to find joy in even the toughest moments of this whole process because together, I know we can do anything.
But, now he has gone back to his proper job and I’m in charge. Half a human adult running a great big bookshop. But what a bookshop it is.
The last two days have been wonderful. I have made new friends – parents, grandparents, teachers, illustrators, authors and curious passers by. It’s a new company policy that if you wrote or illustrated a book that we stock you MUST sign it. Huge thanks to Alexander Gordon Smith, Karl Newson and Matt Robertson who have all pretended not to mind.
We are feeling very cool with our new showbiz pals, press coverage and general excitement but the most amazing people I have met over the last 2 days, have been the children. I’ve held babies galore and haven’t dropped any of them, young people have told me long stories about their favourite books (and also their dinosaurs and mermaids and fortnite outfits and cars and unicorns…) and excited future booksellers have scanned their own books and taken money from their parents. They have been a delight in every way. And so polite.
My favourite thing happened yesterday. A little boy came in at 10am and his mum bought him a Rabbit and Bear Book which he had chosen (always let them choose even if you don’t agree with the choice). Off they went. At 4pm they came back. His mum explained that he had barely eaten his lunch because he was so engrossed in his book and had nearly finished it.They had returned for the next book in the series. How wonderful! I asked him if he would mind writing a review for us so we could display it on our review tree and he happily agreed. I received it last night. I was so pleased. A little boy had read almost two books in a day and written a lovely review in the Summer Holidays. That stuff is magical.
And that is how its been and long may it continue.
I know that I have made mistakes with the till and still struggle not to say ‘our adult books are downstairs’ (particularly unfortunate given the excellent headline pairing with our front page coverage in the local press) but the customers have been incredible. Patient and understanding and seemingly almost as in love with the shop as we are. It has been a joy to meet so many wonderful and interesting people who are spending on average half an hour browsing, reading and chatting. This is my job now. And I love it. Sometimes I might drop the baby but I won’t mean to and I will always kiss it better.