Sunday, 6 May 2012

ABIDE WITH ME BOOK TOUR: Waterstones Basildon

5th May 2012

Basildon is a town in south Essex, approximately fourteen and a half miles east of Romford, and a strong West Ham supporting area.  I'd been looking forward to the Basildon book signing ever since the book tour dates were announced. 

Like all the signings so far, Basildon was entirely unique.  The branch happened to be located inside a branch of a HMV record shop.  When I realised thi, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I wasn't hopeful. But when I eventually found the shop, the window gave me hope.  Not just a poster.  A huge poster.  Next to one of JK Rowling.  Fantastic.

  J.K.'s got to be chuffed with that.  Surely.

I entered the shop, through HMV, past the records and the dvds, and found Waterstones at the back of the shop.  And the first thing I saw - front and centre and huge - the biggest signing table yet.  Me and my nephew George wasted no time in setting up our bits.  The - once again - lovely Waterstones staff fetched me a coffee, and we were ready to go.

 George surveys his handiwork.  Fine job young fella me lad.

And almost as soon as I'd taken this picture, we sold our first book.   Another West Ham supporter.  He picked up the 1980 Cup Final programme from the front of the table, and told me he was at that game with his dad.  He said him and his family were in Italy on holiday at the time, and him and his dad drove all the way back to London for the game, then drove all the way back again to resume their holiday.  Brilliant.  I asked him what how he'd like me to sign his book.  He said it was a present for his dad, and asked me to write 'To George, Happy Birthday, love - I think - Tony.  After writing what he asked, it occurred to me this was something he could have written himself, but I signed my name at the bottom of the page anyway, for what it was worth :)

I had a lovely chat with a really nice lady called Paula about how I wrote the book, how it got to be published, etc.  Paula herself is a writer, and it was an absolute delight meeting a kindred spirit so early in the day.  And that's what I've found about these book signings.  It's not the selling of the books that makes the days so special - it's the people I've had the privilege to meet who I'd never known existed if it weren't for writing the book in the first place.

As the shop began to fill, the books began flying off the table.  I sold a book to an old friend I hadn't seen in fifteen years, then another friend of mine I'd met through Facebook and had never met before, turned up and bought a book. Meeting Shelley was quite an experience, and an absolute pleasure.

 Me and Shelley

By lunchtime, we'd sold half the amount of books we took a whole day to sell at Romford, and almost twice as much as we sold at the last book signing at Ilford. Two cheese rolls, a coffee,  and a Double Decker - not had one of them since I was at school - and I was ready to go.

A Double Decker

Everything about the Basildon signing was perfect.  Not just the table and the location within the shop, but the fact the tills for both Waterstones and HMV were set to the left of me, meaning when a queue developed, it ran right along the front of my table.  I really couldn't have asked for any more.

At mid afternoon, my cousin and his wife turned up, with their two lovely girls - Talia and Kaia.  Another camera whipped out, another picture.

An increasingly tired me, with the very sweet and lovely, Talia and Kaia.
Yep.  It was tired time.  I'd been on my feet for six hours or so, and although having the time of my life, I could feel my concentration wavering.  So much so, I actually signed one book 'hope you enjoy the bed'.  The unconscious is a wonderful thing. Fortunately, I caught myself quick enough to change it to 'hope you enjoy the book' so no damage done.  My good mate from work, Gary, then turned up and, being sensitive to my innate shyness in front of a camera, promptly whipped his phone out and gleefully took another picture of me.  
What are mates for, eh.

The day ended having sold as many copies as we did at the first signing at Romford - way more than I expected.  The shop wanted to keep all the remaining copies of the book, so I promptly signed them, and watched with a smile of satisfaction as a space was made on the West Ham display for the books to sit alongside the brilliant Jeremy Nicholas' 'Mr Moon has Left the Building', and Robert Banks' seminal 'An Irrational Hatred of Luton'.

One of my proudest moments of the Book Tour so far, this picture.
And to top it all off, the Mighty Daggers finished the season beating Bristol Rovers four-nil at home, thanks to a Brian Woodhall hatrick.
Life, eh.  

It remains for me to thank everyone that turned up on Saturday for making it a day I'll remember for a very long time.  And a special thanks, once more, to the lovely Waterstones staff for making the day such a pleasure.

Next up, the final date on this leg of the tour: Waterstone Walthamstow, next Saturday.  And I can't wait :)

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