Every week is independent bookshop week for me, but there is also an official independent bookshop week for those who need reminding, so I took off to Arnold, Belper and Nottingham for some shop, library and school events. The week began threateningly. On Monday, I woke up to see a former TV detective sidekick proudly, but not always effectively, setting fire to some Pride flags in his back garden. Then, I heard about a friend’s bookshop being stormed and the workers being screamed at for having a Pride window. Other bookshops had stickers placed on their windows declaring that they hated women because they had a Pride window. The fact that all of the bookshops who had incidents like this were run and curated by women didn’t seem to matter.
In my bleary-eyed morning state of mind, I put up a little TikTok message about those who feel that love, empathy and compassion are dangerous, quoting a line from a biography of Leonora Carrington, “for those living in emotional poverty, other people’s happiness is a threat”.
I had laid down the kindling, it was then ignited by a former TV sitcom writer and the former TV detective sidekick, who suggested we should have a discussion.
I continued with my day, my only awareness of the bonfire being built for me was the occasional text from someone saying, “sorry to see what’s going on on social media”. But I just let them roar while I did better things with my time.
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Dormouse Books in Belper was a beauty among bookshops. It even has a horror dungeon where rickety steps lead you to Tales of Mystery and Imagination and errant werewolves. As usual, the mind of the owner was on display with a rich selection of novels, predominantly by women from Ali Smith to Margaret Atwood, Muriel Spark to Jean Rhys.