Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hatchards Book Shop

My first job in 1970 was as a messenger for an airline. Our base was at Gatwick Airport and my job was to go to London, just about every day, to take documents to various consulates and embassies that needed to be approved before cargo was allowed to be exported to these countries by air. I would go into the office at 9 a.m. and then get a train shortly after 10 and deliver my documents, usually by midday. I then often had to hang around and wait for things, usually returning to collect things around 3 p.m. before catching the train back to Gatwick. This gave me a lot of time to explore London and in particular record and book shops.

I discovered Hatchards (the oldest bookshop in the UK, founded 1797) in Piccadilly on one of my first trips to London. I would visit several times a week to look at books and usually once a week to I bought something; it has always been my favourite bookshop. Somehow books look better in Hatchards than they do in Waterstones and Smiths, it makes me want to buy them. I try to sneak a visit whenever I'm in London and today was no exception. I went up to the first floor and as surprised to see my book about the BBC News in WW2 on display! I just had to take a picture. It's on the top row third from the left - you can see it if you squint. I think the assistant thought I was a nutter, but I didn't have the brass neck to tell him it was my book I was photographing. Even better it was next to Peter Ackroyd's new book about the Thames. As Peter is, for my money, the greatest living English writer it was double delight!

I met Peter at a publishing party a few years ago; he had had a few glasses of wine. I stood talking to me with his arm around my shoulder gently pouring a glass of red wine down the front of my white shirt. I didn't have the heart to interrupt his flow. Peter drunk was far more interesting than most people sober.


r morris said...

I love bookstores of all kinds--new, used, whatever. They bring back so many good memories.
And I agree---there is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing your book on the shelf in a big bookstore--every so often I go by Barnes and Noble and look at mine and think, 'Wow, I actually did it!'. It's a good feeling.
I've enjoyed reading your books even before I knew you, Richard. Your Sinatra book offers both a wealth of information and the best photos anywhere, as does the Wyman Stones book and the Wyman Jazz book.
Next time I go to the Barnes and Noble here in Idaho Falls, Idaho, I will take a photo of your Stones cartoon book on the shelf for you.

Richard Havers said...

Cheers Rob! Tony Visconti sent me a picture of his autobiography in paperback in a Manchester book shop. It's a real buzz!

Richard Evans said...

I think it's good we do this. I always look for CD covers that I've designed and I always put them in the front of the rack in record shops - if I can find a record shop these days.
I remember taking my mother into a record shop to show her my name on the back of a Paul McCartney album. She wasn't that impressed, but later in the local newsagents she proudly showed the shopkeeper my illustration in that weeks edition of Radio Times. "My son did that!" she proudly told him.

r morris said...

Richard E., which McCartney cover did you do? I have them all.

Richard Evans said...

Rob, the particular album in question was 'Wings Over America' on which I had illustrated the six record labels and a poster. I've worked on several McCartney albums from when I used to work with my pals at Hipgnosis studios until the last one I collaborated on which was 'Off The Ground'.

r morris said...

I have both of those albums. Wings Over America has stunning artwork and design. I even used to have the poster for that album on my dorm wall in Montana as a college freshman. Small world.
You do great work. :)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Well done! You should be justly proud. IT is a lovely bookshop, too.

jmb said...

A truly wonderful bookstore which I remember from my sojourn in London in 1960-1. Visiting bookstores is my favourite thing: big box,small intimate, second hand, doesn't matter, all a delight to me.

But what a thrill it must be to see your very own book so prominently displayed. I don't think I could have resisted telling the clerk I was the author.