diamond geezer

 Sunday, December 05, 2010

It's a tough life being an author. First you have to write a book, which isn't easy. And then you have to sell it. Often, I suspect, that's the harder part.

Waterstone's, RomfordDee sits at a wooden table in a bookshop doorway, waiting to be noticed. Her book is piled up beside her, and she has a pen in her hand. Maybe some of the Christmas shoppers passing by will eventually notice her. She takes another sip of her Costa Coffee and waits.

Romford's festive crowds are out in force. Most don't bother looking into Waterstone's, let alone stepping over the threshold in search of hardback gifts. Even when they do, Dee's presence is mutely stated. No posters in the windows, nor any announcements in store. Only a few leaflets strewn across the tabletop reveal who she is and why she's here.
Come and meet local author Dee Gordon at Waterstone's Romford. She will be signing copies of her brand new title 'The Little Book of the East End' from 11am on Saturday 4th December.
Dee's book is one of those nuggety informative volumes filled with snippets of historical trivia. The picture on the front cover shows an apple and a pear, although that's probably too subtle for most. Or it would be, if only anybody was looking.

If shoppers are interested at all, it's in Dee's companion volume stacked up to one side, published this time last year. That's 'The Little Book of Essex', which is packed with bite-sized trivia about "one of England's most colourful counties". The people of Romford still like to believe they live in Essex, even though the town's been part of London for the last 45 years.

A lady finally pauses to say hello. She sports a warm woollen hat, and there's a silver twig-like Christmas decoration sticking out of her shopping basket. Two companions join her, and Dee chats politely to the group. Suddenly one whips out a camera and asks if they can have their photo taken with the famous local author. One sale guaranteed.

I follow up behind and greet Dee with a question. I ask how broad her geographic definition of 'the East End' is. To my delight she gives the suicidal answer and admits that her book only covers Tower Hamlets. Nothing within is of any relevance whatsoever to Romford, located eight miles to the east. Her publisher would scream. But that's fine, I'm probably the only Eastender shopping in The Liberty mall today. I'm target audience. What are the chances?

Dee says she's done lots of research. She hopes there'll be lots of East-End-related things in the book I didn't know before. I'm not immediately convinced, because the last time I bought a book in "The Little Book of..." series I was hugely disappointed. But Dee gets the benefit of my doubt, because she didn't write that particular book (or nick bits from this blog to fill it). And because she's charming. So I'll have a copy, ta.

She signs my purchase with a smile, and hopes I enjoy the read. I wish her luck and retreat out into the plaza. Looking back through the doorway I see her sitting alone again beside her tower of unsold books. She sips her coffee, and the rest of the shop buzzes obliviously around her. Only two more hours to go.

The good news is that Dee was right, and her book is indeed Tower-Hamlets-tastic. It delves down into seriously local trivia, not just the obvious Ripper stuff but delightful minutiae about everywhere from Bethnal Green to Docklands. She's included the Blackwall Tunnel pillion ghost, Bow Road's Victorian teenage gangs and Mile End's circumnavigating goat - all of these were new to me. As an Eastender, that's ten quid well spent. Residents of Romford, however, might want to look elsewhere.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream