100 Things I Miss About the Actual Bookshop

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  1. Changing the till roll on the till roll printer
  2. Getting new till roll from the cupboard downstairs
  3. Forgetting to order more till roll and having to borrow some from Bury Food and Wine
  4. The satisfying heft of a bag of pound coins
  5. The feeling when you have just one pound coin left in the till, and any moment now you'll have to go down to the safe, and then somebody pays for a £7 book entirely in £1s and you're covered now for the next half-hour at least
  6. The occasional customer (not as occasional as you might imagine) who asks whether the authors are alphabetised by surname or first name
  7. Making 'biscuit runs' to big Sainsburys during lulls
  8. Supermarket nicknames: e.g. calling big Sainsburys "big Shavers", and little Tescos "little Tomps" (both of these are of great antiquity in the book trade)
  9. David objecting when we use 'ten bob' as a synonym for £10
  10. Watching for birds in the outside courtyard, and reminiscing about the time we saw a peregrine falcon
  11. Watching the acer tree in the courtyard through its various colour changes as the year goes on, and reminiscing about the various celebrity dogs which have peed against it, including Rukmini Iyer's dog, and Zadie Smith's
  12. The satisfying shotgun-cock noise of the till drawer opening
  13. The equally satisfying click of the till drawer shutting
  14. Going down to tell the other shops on Bury Place when there's people passing 'funny money'
  15. Shooting the bull about the various trends in funny money - English £20s, Clydesdale £10s, Northern Irish £20s, and reminiscing about when there used to be dodgy £1 coins as well
  16. Listening to Loretta Lynn to find out an authoritative pronunciation of 'Topeka'
  17. Tourists coming in to buy our tote bags, and asking if we have changing rooms where they can try them on, or alternatively a full length mirror
  18. Fashion shoots on Gilbert Place which we can see out the front window
  19. Roadworks on Gilbert Place in the evenings, when they use the circular cutter which sends up showers of sparks
  20. The pasta stand at the Birkbeck farmers' market on Thursdays
  21. Taking the very ancient carbon-copy 'card machine' to offsites, in case the phone signal isn't good enough to use the Spire terminal
  22. Completing the 'shop challenge' after we've closed in the evening (traversing the shop from till to front door without touching the floor)
  23. The extremely hallowed tradition of Friday Till Beers
  24. Customers in the queue praising one another on their book choices
  25. Bringing up the broken fan from the cupboard under the stairs to pose next to various books for "what do you think of ali smith? / i'm a fan"-style twitter jokes
  26. The 'assets folder' on the bookshop drive containing nothing but a single cropped picture of Luc Sante's bald head
  27. Gayle recommending classic country bangers
  28. The cake shop making one too many cappuccinos by mistake, and they come out and offer it to us
  29. The cake shop making a jug of Bloody Mary deliberately after a heavy one the night before, and they come up and offer us some
  30. Completing the 'ISBN challenge' (guessing our top 10 bestsellers from their ISBNs alone - only David has ever completed this, although Charlie did once get a convincing 6/10)
  31. Speculating about what happens to all our pens
  32. Gayle's label on the ribbon scissors reading 'RIBBON ONLY' (they are the only sharp scissors in the shop)
  33. Claire calling the cardboard mailers 'Normans'
  34. Having a long discussion about salt liquorice with a customer and receiving an authoritative correction from the Director of the British Museum who is in the queue behind him
  35. Schlepping the chairs up the stairs for an event
  36. Schlepping the chairs back down the stairs after an event
  37. Meeting a member of Radiohead (not saying which) after an event and he turns out to be a really sound gent
  38. The various longstanding discrepancies in the poetry section's alphabetisation
  39. Too-tall books which have to go on their sides so nobody buys them
  40. Kvetching about the white Fitzcarraldo covers
  41. Claire singing Bonnie Tyler whenever she unboxes a Turnaround order
  42. Remembering the brief period two years ago when we were troubled by a very real shop ghost, who caused a surprising amount of destruction and also stole some of Natalia's Chinese cigarettes
  43. The news clipping in the office in which Gwendoline Riley gives her opinions about how good Endeavour is and especially how much she likes Roger Allam
  44. The bookshop toolkit containing neither a Phillips head screwdriver nor a pair of pliers, but instead most of the space being taken up by two enormous wooden mallets, of the sort you use to put up marquees
  45. Seoul Plaza on Tottenham Court Road, lunch option of kings, honey glazed chicken or chili glazed chicken on rice, masterpieces both
  46. Couple of pints in the Tav after work
  47. An out-of-date Toffee Crisp for 45p in Bury Food and Wine
  48. Jarndyce's shelf of £1 books they put out in the street in good weather, and how I found a Rebecca West I didn't have on it once
  49. Remembering when Enitharmon were our next door neighbours but one and we used to borrow their ladder
  50. Having to take off shoes and stand on a pile of books to plug in the Christmas lights
  51. The smile and kindness of our incredibly friendly postie
  52. Kafkaesque Yodel collection sagas
  53. Shooting the bull with the Abrams rep
  54. Telling cold callers that we do not have a phone line
  55. Playing the giddy goat
  56. Unscrewing the middle light bulb from above the till before an event which we're going to film, so the light doesn't reflect off the speaker's forehead
  57. Pizza and brews after stocktake
  58. Accidentally scanning an ISBN into the price field on the till, so it briefly looks as though the day's takings is £9781780371542
  59. Accidentally dialling the ISBN when it's a customer order you need to tell them has come in
  60. Complaining about the stools
  61. Film crews using the bookshop as a location, and placing Prynne's Poems so it will be visible in shot
  62. Getting the new issue of the mag on Tuesday morning
  63. Browsing Marcella Hazan at 5.30 in the evening trying to decide on what to have for dinner
  64. Browsing the big Nigella at 5.45 in the evening still trying to decide on what to have for dinner
  65. Browsing Patience Gray at 5.55 in the evening knowing perfectly well that all the recipes call for ingredients you don't have but she is such a good writer it doesn't matter
  66. The unanswerable question 'What is Batch?'
  67. Learning about new features on Bertline
  68. Showing off to visitors our astonishing 'book success predictor', a cut-out bird hanging on a hook from the ceiling, which we spin to determine whether a particular title will be a big hit, or is 'strictly for the birds'
  69. Some plastic wrestlers which were sent to us from Mexico City and are scattered around the office
  70. Getting proofs in the post
  71. Taking the dust jacket off Square Haunting and pointing out that it's 'a bit of a Wade'
  72. Remembering the baffling occasion on which Notting Hill Editions sent us a ship's bell and striker
  73. Remembering the equally baffling occasion when American Express sent us a yo-yo
  74. And also the time when Picador sent us some magnetic fridge poetry to celebrate Jacob Polley winning the T.S. Eliot Prize, and someone used it to compose 'Jacob Polley! ah! squidgy balls', and as far as I know it has stayed in place to this day
  75. Coffee made by anyone except me
  76. The spectacular crab salad buffets at the Booker ceremonies
  77. Reps coming in on scheduled proof drops and bringing us the good stuff, esp. biscuits, miniatures of gin, and Kendal Mint Cake
  78. The ping of the lift upstairs which informs us that the booking in is done and we can begin shelving
  79. Finding a stray wineglass on the shelf the morning after an event
  80. The shop somehow looking so much crisper and higher resolution after we have had the floor sanded
  81. The shop somehow looking so much crisper and higher resolution after I have cleaned my glasses
  82. Walkers Jalapeno and Cheese Big Bag
  83. Facebook Memories informing me it is the 4th anniversary of Susannah Harker coming into the shop and letting me have my photo taken with her
  84. The six-volume set of Eighteenth Century British Erotica in the basement cupboard, a leftover from when we had a small secondhand section
  85. KP's shark-shaped phone case
  86. Slow days which pick up at the end
  87. Slow mornings which pick up around lunchtime then slow down again in the evening
  88. Tidal rhythm days, especially when my lunch hour coincides with high tide
  89. The three legendary customer orders: David answering the phone to Christopher Lee, Charlie answering the phone to Geoffrey Hill, and me answering the phone to a certain legendary record producer, who was calling from rural Georgia and currently had the singer from a certain legendary country-rock band asleep in his spare room upstairs
  90. Rousting the customers from the basement at 18.29
  91. The lurch in your chest as you hit 'close cash'
  92. The different sound each of the coins makes as they fall into the till drawer; plasticy artificial tinkle of 5p pieces, crashing glass of 20ps, hearty rumble of £1 coins
  93. When the magazine is celebrating something and starts a tab at Truckles and we can nip over and get pints of London Lager for behind the till
  94. Getting books down off the high shelves for customers
  95. The leftovers after late shopping evenings
  96. Cutting open a bag of ice for a launch and pouring it from height into the bucket
  97. Smashing the more truculent ice-blocks with the wide end of a bottle to break them up some
  98. Customers who come back and praise your last recommendation
  99. The enormous Great Dane puppy called Xena who sometimes comes to visit
  100. Making sure that on Friday evenings that we don't sell the tote with the tins