Monday, 11 July 2011

Book signings and Festivals

I had a good time on Saturday, signing books for customers at Hale Bookshop, near Altrincham. The shop, run by Lynne Pollitt, is a good example of a first rate indie bookstore, the type that really needs to be supported in the current climate. Use them or lose them, is the reality.

Lynn and her assistant Sam made us very welcome, and even produced coffee in an Anthony Berkeley 'Not to be Taken' mug identical to my own! I was impressed by the vibrancy of the Hale community, even in these times, which are so difficult for retailers. We talked about the possibility of a Hale Festival, and I do think that a well organised cultural festival is a very good way of binding a community together. Of course, it tends to work best in a community that's already strong, but it can work anywhere, if motivated and efficient people run it, and are willing to put in the time, almost inevitably for love rather than money.

An example is the Lymm Festival. On Friday night we went to a celebration in lovely surroundings of the tenth festival in our village. It's been extremely successful, and is now being looked on as a model for other places seeking to set up something similar. I've been lucky enough to be involved in various ways, judging writing competitions and giving talks, and it's great fun. One thing we do lack in Lymm, though, is a bookshop. So Hale has a head start, and an excellent literary hub to build cultural events around.


Fiona said...

Oh, Martin, your entry today just makes me green with envy! I live in a small town in the commuter belt; it reputedly has a very high income per capita and yet there is no bookshop. Fifteen years ago, when the town was smaller, we had THREE proper bookshops - I'm not talking about WHS or remainders, but two independents and one chain. The local carnival has been going for over 50 years but has come down from an 8 day event with everyone involved to a struggling weekend which is unlikely to survive another couple of years. It seems that with prosperity comes a loss of community - personally I think it's a very poor exchange.

{signed, A Grumpy Old Woman}

aguja said...

I love the look of this bookshop - would love to browse there. Glad your day went well.

I would be delighted to do a book signing there .... if they wanted to take on my book!

My husband comes from that area.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Fiona, it's surely reasonable to be grumpy about lost bookshops - we need more of them, not less! And community is vitally important, perhaps more now than in the past. So I do hope your carnival keeps going.

Martin Edwards said...

Aguja, I can recommend it!

Paul Beech said...

Martin – The Hale Bookshop sounds like one I’ll have to visit, one where I might find more on the shelves than just the latest bestsellers…maybe even short story collections and anthologies! Yours?

Yes, Lymm Festival is terrific – so well organised, with a programme of quality events catering for all tastes. Apart from your talks, I enjoy the art and calligraphy exhibitions in the Village Hall. And just the festival time atmosphere of the village.

Of course in Moulton we have a strong sense of community too, with the annual Crow Fair, which centres on the famous Crow Dance (‘The Relic of the Cornfields’ as known during the 1920s Depression, when performed for prize money by village men laid off from the local salt mine). And across Northwich town, at the Anderton Boat Lift, we have the Lift Off Festival of Music and Arts starting today – if interested, check it out at

All good stuff.

Regards, Paul

aguja said...

Thanks, Martin - I shall contact them to see what their view is ... the more bookshops and libraries, the better!

Martin Edwards said...

Paul, I've never heard of the Lift Off Festival, though we used to visit the Moorings every week when Mum was alive. Must check it out.