Wednesday, 25 April 2012

ABIDE WITH ME: Book signing - Waterstones, Ilford - April 21st 2012

A few days ago saw the fourth signing on the ABIDE WITH ME Book Tour - Waterstones, Ilford.

Waterstones Ilford, on a cloudy book signing morning.

All the book signings so far have been completely different.  The Romford signing took place in a a busy shopping centre, the Lakeside signing in a huge shopping mall, and the sell-out Newham signing off a table on the street.  The Waterstones Ilford branch was different again - a more traditional bookstore than the previous Waterstones branches, in a traditional high street.

I turned up at half past ten, knowing this would be my most challenging signing to date.  And so it proved.  I laid my bits and pieces on the table provided by the lovely staff, and setup my big screen wotsit.  I even had an armchair.  Lovely.  

  My bits and pieces, and my armchair.

Seeing as the promotion for the book seemed to be heading in a Sports Fiction direction as much as a Crime Fiction direction, I decided to bring along my mate Tony's copy of the 1980 FA Cup Final programme to add to the table display.  For those of you who have read the book, you will know the 1980 Final plays a pivotal role in the book.

  My mate Tony's 1980 FA Cup Final programme.

And I waited for the punters to roll in.

And I watied.

And I waited.

Ilford is a cosmopolitan sort of place.  Almost half the population of South Ilford, where Waterstones is situated, is of an Asian - predominantly Indian - origin.  I suspected a crime fiction book with a background of nineteen seventies football played out by a cast of almost, to a man and a boy, white working class males, might not be on everyone's Christmas list, so to speak.  

It wasn't as if the shop wasn't busy.  It was.  Educational books and childrens books were flying off the shelves.  I got a couple of smiles, but not many.  

I entertained myself by listening to the police radio transmission on constant  playback from the till area.  At eleven o'clock, an urgent voice came over the airwaves telling of a man a few doors down, drunkenly threatening staff and customers.  A couple of hours later, trouble came to the shop itself when a couple of young idiots rolled in and began scuffling by the Jubilee books.  A quick word from Caffeine Nights head honcho - Darren - soon sent them packing in surly fashion.

And then I sold my first book.  A West Ham fan, God bless him, picked up the Cup Final programme, and told me he was at the game and asked me what the book was about.  A brief chat about Sir Trevor Brooking falling on his arse to score the winning goal, and what a travesty lanky Scotch centre back Willie Young wasn't snipered on the spot for his assault on little Paul Allen, and KERRCHING!!

One down.  Hurrah!

Then I sold another.  Then another.

A man with no teeth came staggering up to me during the mid-afternoon rush and told me he was moving to Center Parcs (a popular forest based holiday camp franchise).  I thought to interest him in a book, but by the time I could open my mouth, he was gone.

I was mistaken for a Waterstones employee at least a dozen times, and even succeeded in sending a customer upstairs to look for a James Patterson book he'd requested, when they were, in fact, right behnd me.  I'd like to say I felt bad about it.  But James Patterson, you know . . .

It had been a tiring day.  I'd sold a handful of books.  Chatted to some nice people - including the head mistress of a school local to me who invited me to give a talk to the kids.  But like I say, for the most part, it was just hard work.  Then towards the end, a lady picked up a book and asked me what it was about:

Me: It's about two boys growing up in the East End in the nineteen seventies.  Football.  Gangsters.  And stuff <I was very tired by this point>  

Lady: West Ham?

Me: Yes, and gangsters, and family and hope and friendship.  That sort of thing.

Lady: How much is it?

Me: Eight ninety-nine.

Lady: <sucking in her teeth, about to put the book down>  That's a bit expensive, isn't it?

Me: <the energy fast draining out of me>  Nothing to do with me, I just write them.

Lady:< face beaming, obviously another one having mistaken me for a Waterstones employee>  You wrote it?

Me: Yes.

Lady: Then I'll support you, love.  My husband will really enjoy it.

KERRCHING!!!

There really are some nice people about.  And there were none nicer that day than the Waterstones staff.  I really can't say enough about all  the staff I've encountered at every signing so far, and the staff at Ilford Waterstones were fantastic.  Special mention to Eleanor and Vicky.  They made a hard day a lot of fun.

A break this week, then the tour continues on the fifth of May at WATERSTONES BASILDON . . .

Keep well, everyone and thank you so much for your continuede support.

All the best,

Ian

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