Reopening the Bookshop: A Photo Diary

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We’ve had a lively time over the last fortnight getting the shop in a fit state to reopen. To record how we did it for post-COVID posterity, I’ve been charged with creating a photo diary of the process.

There was one thing we all immediately wanted to check – were the biscuits still within their best before date? Luckily, they were, and with plenty of time to spare.


Before we locked down on March 17th, David had been sealed into the shop, with instructions to guard it with his life. Unfortunately he had gone ‘stir crazy’ and appointed a marmite pot as his subordinate.


The first order of business was stripping the pot of its ill-begotten authority. Its staff privileges were immediately revoked, and it was replaced dejectedly on the condiments shelf.

marmite not staff

There was other important work to be done before we were ready to face the public. Some of the metaphors in our poetry section had become a little fuzzy from three months in the dark. So Charlie went to work with the furniture polish.


Even worse: a whole batch of Eimear MacBride’s crystalline prose had set rock-hard. KP broke up the paragraphs with a mallet, and the individual sense-units with a small toffee hammer.

kp hammer

Things were progressing apace. Natalia was removed from storage and wheeled to the till. She muttered the three Words of Command and the three Words of Power, and the till clattered open. The booksellers gasped. The claim on the sign that no cash had been left on the premises was nothing but a cunning bluff. In fact there was twenty nicker (two fives, a bag of 50ps and a bag of 20ps), and some spare till roll.

natalia storage

The reopening process so far had been fuelled by a powerful yet foul-tasting moonshine called ‘Red Dogg’. The money from the till meant that a joyful Claire was able to pour the last of the Dogg down the sink,


and proceed to Bury Food and Wine for a bag of tins and two packs of twiglets.

bury place

In the meantime, some gents had apparently begun to remove all the doors. “Does anyone know what they’re doing? Are they supposed to be doing that?” wondered Charlie. The booksellers watched, snacking on twiglets and sinking tins, as the mysterious characters wheeled out the safe, the laptops, and some ritzy Prynne first editions, loaded them up into their white van, and departed in the direction of Museum Street. “Perhaps we should have taken that van’s numberplate” said Gayle after a while.