Small Publisher versus the Elements

This morning Peirene woke me up at 5am.Turner painting. Image by  Mark Barry

“It’s raining,” she said.

“I know,” I replied. I had already been lying awake for a few minutes, listening to the rain.

“Did it ever occur to you that it could rain today?” she asked.

“No,” I replied honestly. “However, I did consider that sun wouldn’t be good either. It’d bleach our books.”


A few weeks ago I had booked a stall place for our Roaming Store at the YMCA festival in a nearby park. But only this morning  did it cross my mind that I hadn’t thought through this excursion properly. So far we have set up our stall at indoor fairs and markets. This would be the first time outdoors. I had borrowed a foldable table from a neighbour. But I never thought about a Gazebo to protect the books from the elements.


By 7am the rain had stopped and blue sky was showing, so I decided to go ahead with my plan. I took our patio umbrella to provide some genteel shade.


But I hadn’t reckoned with the wind and before I arrived at the park, it didn’t feel that strong. However, inside the park it howled at gale force. It was futile to even attempt to open the umbrella. And soon tablecloth and books and catalogues and bags and books marks and salon flyers flew off the table and scattered across the park.  I spent the next fifteen minutes gathering them from the trees. I should have packed up then and there. But I was convinced I would meet the right crowd of interested book-lovers. So I sellotaped as much to the table as possible, including one copy of each title. The rest of the books I put back into the trolley.


“This does not look very elegant or impressive.” Peirene stated. I threw her a dismissive glance. She had sat in a café and had only just appeared at my side. “In fact, no one can tell that we are selling books. It rather looks as if we are trying to sign people up for some petition or other. I am not sure we are giving out the right vibes.”


I didn’t want to admit that she had a point. And the first couple of hours business went ok. People stopped to talk, I sold some books. Then the rain cloud arrived. Everything, including me and Peirene, was soaked in seconds.


“Can we go now?” Peirene asked. I shook my head. The sun was shining again, the wind blowing, everything – including ourselves – would dry soon. “Well, I am off.” Peirene replied. “The stall has become a disgrace and both of us look like drowned kittens. I am a glamorous Greek nymph and don’t want to be associated with this.” I watched her heading towards the park gates with her head held high.


No one else approached our stall. After another couple of hours I finally packed up. Luckily no one minded that I left early.


I usually love to sleep with the window open, even in winter. And I love the sound of wind. But tonight I, I think, I will keep the window shut.

Image by Mark Barry

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