October 2: The Laugharne Weekend is a beautiful festival in the town where Dylan Thomas wrote Under Milk Wood. It is just far enough from London to put off the more metropolitan-soiree authors and so gets a better class of counter-culture.
It also has the bookseller Jeff Towns here, a man with a deep knowledge of Thomas, the Beats and an intense love of books. I always buy things I shouldn’t from him and on this occasion that includes UFOs and Commonsense (their spelling) and a 1936 volume from the Occult Book Society on Practical Time-Travel.
On the Saturday I perform five shows and, at the end of it all, I wonder: “What would Dylan Thomas do?” So, I go to the pub. On my walk home, the sky is cloudless and the stars are transcendent. I think about how each photon of light has travelled vast distances and been disturbed by nothing on its journey until I have stood in the way. I hope they don’t mind.
I wonder: “What would Dylan Thomas do?” So, I go to the pub. On my walk home, the sky is cloudless and the stars are transcendent.
October 6: I should have been performing to 12,000 people tonight, instead I am performing to 12.
It is the first physical gathering of the Northampton Arts Lab since the pandemic began. I sit behind an eyebrow-singeing bonfire and read stories from my book about space archeology, geology, the block universe, lucid dreams and ADHD.
I finish by reading a poem in memory of people who shaped me who have recently died and, as I do, the fire suddenly roars brighter. You can call it a coincidence if you want, but I suspend my need for an evidence-based reality for a moment.
October 8: I time my arrival in Glasgow very badly. It is one hour before a football international and the bookshop I am visiting, Mount Florida Books, is very near Hampden Park.
There are no trains or taxis so, with wheelie suitcase and rucksack and chafing new shoes, I create blisters on a three-mile walk in the rain. For once, I follow the football chants. As long as there is a man draped in a flag ahead of me, I know I am going in the right direction.
I almost miss the bookshop as it does not yet have a new sign and trades under a sign that says “Zaz Tattoos”. Had it still been a tattoo parlour I might have got Kurt Vonnegut on my right arm and Jean Rhys on my ankle. We time the talks around the match and sit locked in the shop while the crowd leave the stadium jubilantly. Then the next audience sneaks in as the echoes die down.
Just 107 more bookshops to go (of course I didn’t stop at 100).
Robin Ince’s 100 Bookshop Tour – Cosmic Shambles runs until December 18
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