While I should be writing

The genius behind the plan

I haven’t actually met her yet, but I am sure we’ll be great friends. As Oscar Wilde put it: “an acquaintance that begins with bookshops is sure to develop into a real friendship.”

The mastermind behind the plan is Louise Court, an organizational force and benevolent literary wizard. She wrote me a month ago to ask if I would consider coming to London for a few days in February, for a whirl-wind-tour of some nice bookshops. My first draft of the reply went something like “yesyesyesyesyesyesyes”, but my sister suggested the slightly more profession “Of course.”

And why stop there, I thought? I had played for some time with the idea of a writing trip to the Great Lakes (for Beatrix Potter), or possibly Scotland, for these bookshops, and suggested combining the three ideas; a few days in London, travel across the country, visit the Lake District and any other bookshops, towns or part of the country that she could recommend.

She responded with a Google map of some of the best 60 or so bookshops across England, Scotland and Wales (se image below), colour coded of course, taking in also other places of literary interest that I might like.

Louise final schedule for me includes:
– Bookshops, complete with address, opening hours and twitter handle
– A note on which of the bookshops have cafés, for my lunches, and bars, for cocktails and books
– Train- and bus timetable
– Pre-booked ticket to Edinburgh, and a step-by-step guide on how to retrieve the ticket from the ticket machine (“State booking reference”, “Insert card”)
– Suggested places for longer, spontaneous stays, in case I need a break from the schedule
– Suggested hotels for all the towns
– Taxi service researched for the rural parts of Wales
– Suggested apps to download for train information

Me, to my sister: “Do you think it’s too early to propose to her?”
My sister: “Yes, perhaps. Since she doesn’t actually know you yet, a proposal might seem a bit … hasty. Sure, your Swedish publisher and editor didn’t mind when you proposed to them, but they knew you by then.”
Me: “Can I at least quote Shakespeare? Or Jane Austen? ‘Shall I compare Thee Bookshops to a summers eve..?’ or ‘You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love your bookshops?”
My sister: “Let’s try ‘Looking forward to meeting you’ first, shall we?”

Oh, what a sight to behold! The final schedule is slightly more realistic, but sooner or later I'll visit them all!