Feeling bookish


There’s a great bookshop in Balham, just beside the station, called (hoot!) My Back Pages. I love it in there. It’s all higgledy piggledy, but they have a fantastic range of stuff and they’ll order something for you if you just ask. Luvly.

I was in there recently, looking for a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird. See, I was invited to a fancy dress party where you had to dress as your favourite literary character and bring a copy of the book for a book swap thing at the end of the evening. Good idea, non? Now, generally my answer would be a resounding yes, but if the Northern Line happens to be closed for engineering works that weekend, you don’t necessarily fancy boarding the Rail Replacement Bus Service dressed as Mrs Rochester, Mrs Tiggywinkle or indeed, Mr Tickle.

This led to a good bit of head-scratching, until I came up with Scout Finch, a character who won’t get me barred from a pub, but that I also happen to love. Plus it meant that I had a bally good book to read as I wound my weary way north through the city. I’d forgotten how brilliant it is – so funny that I nearly swiped the copy back off the table as I was leaving.

The party was great and people really stepped up. There was a Dorian Gray, complete with picture frame, a surprisingly sexy Miss Marple, an Under the Volcano, a Bridget Jones and, most impressively, the hostess as the Marquise de Merteuil with full wig and frock.

Such was my love of My Back Pages that I went back to have a browse for myself and came away with The Big Book of Great Short Stories (‘A Library in One Volume’), which would make ideal bedtime reading, I thought to meself. It was published in 1935 and is – how shall I say? – of its time. Out of 45 stories, only about five are by women, and one story features ‘the Club of Queer Trades’. I’m looking forward to the inevitable trenchant defence of empire.

Each story has a pointless little blurb at the start, a leaden and absurd addition that despite its brevity somehow manages to drain the enjoyment from reading before you even start. Until I read this last night:

‘JJ Bell was born and bred in Glasgow and almost all his work reflects the individual character of Clydeside life. In his immortal character sketches [uh oh] of the pawky “Wee Macgreegor” he has depicted the everyday life of a small boy with a deep understanding of youth and an exact reproduction of the humorous aspects of the Glasgow accent.’

Ah, the humorous aspects of the Glasgow accent. How often I have commented on them just moments before sustaining an unexpected injury.


3 Responses to “Feeling bookish”

  1. 1 Luckyfiver

    Not from me you huvnae hen.

  2. 2 vanessaharriss

    You are a gent indeed, but also not from Glasgow.

  3. 3 Luckyfiver

    Er…yes I am.

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