I bought a copy of Bungay’s Alamein at a second hand bookshop in Hay on Wye. I knew that I wanted to read it and was pleased to see an un-battered hard covered copy sitting on a shelf in one of the town’s loveliest shops. After waiting for some pretentious English Literature students to finish making their selection, the clerk served me. As she popped the book in a bag, she said bashfully “Monty was my great uncle.” I thanked her for the book and headed off. An hour later, I went back to the shop and was glad to find that she was still there. I slid the book back across the counter and said “Sorry, I know it’s a bit silly, but would you mind signing the book? It’ so fascinating that you are related to Montgomery.” She was a good sport and wrote an inscription for me (with her colleague laughing at her. I imagine she’s worked in a bookshop for a long time, but probably never done a book signing herself). What a nice way to acquire a little bit of living history. A good reminder why, despite its usefulness, there will always be some things you just can’t get from Amazon.
August 18, 2011