Dull cold autumn day. A little rain spitting on the windscreen as I drive to Nottingham to sell my books at Bookworm Day.
Lunch break at Rutland Water. Almost empty car park. Wind troubles and eddies the grey water. Birds squabble away to my left. I walk over cold damp grass and through copses with traces of al fresco barbecues. The cackles grow louder as the path passes beyond a little island, and there they are – a few small teal with chestnut tops and lots of mallard with glossy green feathers on their heads. A couple of black coots swim past, bobbing jerkily as they go. Goodness knows why they’re all so noisy!
Next day is sunny, clear and cold. The popular Bookworm Day is held in Kimberley – a small town on the northwest edge of Nottingham. It’s mentioned in the Domesday Book and was a centre for coalmining and hosiery. But industry has fled and even the brewery (Kimberley Ales) was bought out and closed 6 years ago. Its current claims to fame are its gymnosperm fossils in the brewery grounds and a nearby Ikea.
And of course, Bookworm Day. Children from the local infant schools dress up as bookworms and parade from the Parish Hall to the Library, past Sainsbury’s, pubs, newsagents and the Farmers’ Market where Long Eaton Silver Band entertain shoppers.
Guarded and guided by police, parents and teachers the children chatter with excitement, while the girls bearing the heads stride proudly at the front of each long caterpillar. Hungry Caterpillar! Certainly they’ve all read one book at least!
In a large room next to a popular cafe some 15 authors set out their posters, stands and books. Some display a series of adventure stories, one has books and framed copies of First World War poems. A collection of paperbacks on local ghosts and life in Victorian Kimberley sell well. There’s a man wearing a red military style costume reminiscent of a Chelsea Pensioner. It hangs off his slight frame baggily. I can’t work out what it has to do with his books. My thriller is set in the Welsh mountains where I grew up, so I wear a huge dragon Tshirt in honour of the Principality. Lots of interest, lots of people to chat to. Coffee and nibbles from the cafe.
At the close I pack my posters and unsold copies into the car and return home via another sandwich lunch at Rutland Water, now basking in the sun and crowded with visitors.