April 2013On Tuesday 2 April I and some friends went to London on a specific book-buying trip. It was pinned around a vaguely annual visit to the Persephone Shop, usually around Birthday Season for my group of Birmingham friends. Sometimes one of us goes on our own, armed with a big and complex list (or a spreadsheet, in my case), but this time, Ali, Gill and I went, along with my ex-colleague and now BookCrosser, Helen, who had supplied us with free day train tickets courtesy of an apology from the train line on which she commutes.

We had a rather excitable trip down on the train, arriving in London at 11.20. We walked from Euston down Tottenham Court Road (oh, the memories of Saturday afternoons spent meandering around the techy shops with Matthew when we lived in Central London, although many of those shops have now gone), then a wiggle around Centrepoint owing to some massive roadworks, and there we were on the Charing Cross Road, having a cuppa at Foyles. From there it was down to Any Amount of Books, a shop I have to visit whenever in central London, with its outside racks of £1 each, 5 for £4 books. I can ALWAYS find five there, and today was no exception: I picked up a Gerald Durrell for Matthew’s collection (“Birds, Beasts and Relatives”); a Women’s Press biography of Cicely Hamilton (the model for Emma Hay in her friend E.M. Delafield’s “The Provincial Lady Goes Further” and author of Persephone Book, “William: An Englishman”); a Virago edition of Willa Cather’s “Alexander’s Bridge”; a 1980s Virago Press book about women in business (for its historical value); and Roy Hattersley’s biography of Campbell-Bannermann, fitting nicely into a sub-category of my collection of political biography: political biography written by another politician (I have Foot on Bevan and Abse on Thatcher; as far as I know, that’s the extent of the collection at the moment).

I zipped off for lunch at Sofra with my dear friend, Emma, and her lovely daughters, Grace and Beth; a fun and restorative affair (marred only by the mend to the tooth I broke on holiday falling off!) and then joined the others for a visit to the Persephone Shop. I bought two gifts (the ones you can’t see properly in the picture) and just “Fidelity” by Susan Glaspell for myself. I took a bit of a while choosing that one – I have to admit that my 42 (now 43) Persephones are really the ones that I actually want – I flirted with getting the whole lot at one stage, but there are some that I just don’t want to read – sorry Persephone, and I think 43 out of 100 is pretty good going, actually.

Tea was had at the delightful cafe next door, and then, tired but happy, we wended our weary etc.s and had a good old read on the train home!

It’s not a confession as such if you meant to go and buy the book, is it …?

Do pop over and read Ali’s write-up, with some pictures of the Persephone shop.