7 High Street West, UPPINGHAM, Rutland, LE15 9QB, UK
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I’ve just been reading a book entitled The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell, and I thought that would be a good idea to do here! So here we go ! From now on my diary will concentrate on how we’re doing in the shop, though I suppose I will rel;apse into grumps from time to time.

Monday 13th November

Had an order for a book of symphonies. Couldn’t find it, but there was an almost identical edition on the shelf, though not listed. Either it was not correctly described in the first place, or the original one has been spirited away by the fairies. It’s odd that we should have two almost identical copies of Mozarts’s Piano Concertos Volume 1.

A lady came in and hd  good look round, then bought three paperbacks for £11.25, saying what a marvellous shop it is.. Most people who say that leave without buying anything. Another ciustomer was looking for a copy of a modern translation of the Holy Bible. We had a look for it, but couldn’t help him, though he did express surprise that I knew where to look.

Had a request for some scans of a copy of Oor Wullie (1956) - the ustomer said it was ahard-to-find issue.

Saturday 11th November

No orders today.

Very slack in the shop during the morning i.e. no customers, but a few came in during the afternoon - mainly to get warm out of the cold I think.. One lady, looking at the price of a paperback she had picked up, asked ‘Is this the price of the book’. I said she could pay either that or the price on the back, but unfortunately there was no price on the book. It was an other example of a novel told forom the points of view of two different people - I have only come acropss one of these before. One version is  at one end of the book. Turn it over and read the other version from the other end - so there is no ‘back’ to the book. She didn’t buy the book, (I think  she £3.75 was too much when she could get a cup of coffee over the road for that). So I’ve moved the book from Fiction to the Gallimaufri shelf.

Monday, 6th November 2017

Online orders 3

What a dreadful day. We had no customers from 10am till about 3pm when a man who lives in Guernsey came in and bought four books for £17.50. He would have bought a lot more, he said, but he was flying back and needed to keep the weight down. A student came in from Uppingham School looking for Latin books  (he said he was involved with the school library), but didn’t buy anything. One lady came in to see about some books she had left for us to purchase. I offered her £10 for all but one

Friday, 5th May 2017

Gosh - doesn’t time fly! Since my last entry I’ve had a new hip! But back to pretty well normal now, though due to Government legislation about the so-called ‘living wage’ we have had to cut down our official opening hours. I say  ‘official’, as we are all pensioners, not reliant on a ‘living wage’, so tend to just open up voluntarily outside those hours - but don’t count on it!

We are also back to normal with Ebay, though it’s taken 12 months to clear our so-called unfulfilled orders - ridiculous policy that Ebay imposes that is detrimental to us as sellers, to customers as buyers, and to Ebay as middlemen. We’ve had a couple of good book purchases recently, but just have no room in the shop to house most of them - see the News page for details.

My grumpy gripe this time is about certain motorists who seem to have no idea: the motorists who never seem to bother using their indicators, or if  they do, it’ s at the very last moment; the motorists who overtake without working out where they are going to get back in the right lane again - they just see a line of traffic ahaed, see an overtaking lane, and promptly start overtaking until the lane ends, and they have nowhere to go. And my other car-related lirritation is road humps.  All they seem to do is to divert a driver’s attention to how to navigate them with least damage to the car, when it should be on the lookout for absent-minded pedestrians crossing the road. They put road humps in a road at Thurnby in Leicestershire that were actually less of a hindrance than the state of the road they were built on.. So having spent money making a bumpy road, they then spent more money of flattening out other naturally accurring humps. Madness. I now hear that the Goverment is considering the removal of all road humps, on the basis that vehicles slowing down and accelerating over them is just adding to ait pollution.

Friday, 30th December 2016

Well, Ebay is pretty useless for us at the moment. As we are restricted to the number and value of books we can list, sales have obviously plummeted, and until March there is no chance of getting above Ebay’s ridiculous ‘below standard’ limit. However, shop sales have imp[roved slightly over the yeaar, and we hope this continues to the point where we may make a small profit. At present, the shop provides an interesting pastime for myself and two retired assistants.

From 18th January until about the middle of March we shall be open only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays as I will be having a hip replaced in January, so will be having a six week rest!

We have recently acquired one of those scrolling text signs for the window - pretty coloured LED lightstha we can program with any message we like. I came (naturally) from China, along with instructions in Chinese, so it took about three days to work out how to program it (and we still haven’t completely mastered it; when we program it to have yellow characters, it comes up purple, but no doubt we will evntually master it)

Another year comes to an end, and we will look forward to whatever 2017 throws at us. We’d be delighted to see you in the shop, or just drop us a line to say you’ve read this!

Friday, 27th May 2016

Can’t believe it’s 6 months since I last added anything here!

Since then we have had problems with Ebay who are unhappy because we couldn’t find 1 in 50 of books people ordered. They obviously have no knowledge or experience of proper secondhand bookshops. If we list a book, and put it on a shelf in the shop, then five years later someone orders it, it isn’t surprising that 2% of the time we can’t locate it. It may have been sold in the shop, and our system of deleting sold books has fallen down, or a customer has moved the book, or some criminal has stolen it. If I go in a supermarket once a week, and find they’ve run out of milk once during the year, I don’t regard that as ‘below standard’.

Anyway, Ebay have now limited us to listing 190 books a month, which simply means that customers have less choice, and we and Ebay have less income. Madness.

We’ve just had the water bill for the shop from  Severn Trent.  In the last six months we’ve used £1.48 worth of water, and produced £1.35 worth of used water. Total bill for the period: £89.25 Complete insanity. And another example of how everything works for big businesses these days (If we had used £100 worth of water, the standing charge would have been the same, so there’s no incentive to use less water).

Tuesday October 13th 2015

Just realised it’s best to do this diary upside down so that the more recent entry appears first. It’s been some time since my last entry, but we’ve been so busy with the flood of customers through the door, and pigs flying past the window. We are selling more and more books onl;ne now, in relation to shop sales, but we do hope that if you are in the area you will come into the shop  and have a good browse. Who knows, we may have overlooked a valuable book and put it on at a riduculously low price. One thing we aren’t short of is books; if a well-stocked old-fashioned shop that yuou can lose yoiurself in, but find what you want quickly is your thing, then you won’t be disappointed.

Having just returned from a wonderful holiday up in the north of Scotland and the Orkney and Shetland Islands, we again were annoyed by the design of trains. There seems to be no co-ordination between the layout of weindows and of seats, so you can end up witha window seat that is actually between two windows, with no view out. You’d think, in this day and age, they would have made sure that the seat arrangement fitted the window layout fitted the window arrangement. Oh, and if you’re thinking of going by train, avoid Virgin Trains, who seem to cater for people with no legs, so close together are the seats . East Midlands trains, Scotrail and Cross-country are delightful, but Virgin trains are like aeroplanes on wheels.


Tuesday 1st March 2016

I must do this diary more often! I can report that I complained to Virgin Trains about their cramped seats, and they sent me a £25 voucher for use next time I travel on their cramped trains.

The new so-called ‘Living Wage’ comes into force in April. I have emailed politicians of all persusasions and at high levels about the assumption they  make that everyone works to make a living. We bookdealers certainly don’t, and if I made £7.20 an hour for the time I spend even just in the shop, I would be amazed. So my assistants have agreed to reduce the number of hours a day we are offiicially open..

From April we will be open from 11.15am to 4.15pm, though those are just trhe regular opening hours, and all three of us will be in either before or after those times (or both) on a voluntary basis. Quite honestly, I usually open up around 10am anyway.

I found a £50 cheque at home the other day tucked  behind a radiator! I had no idea what it was for or who it was from.  Unlike most cheques it didn’t even have the name of the sender on it. The problem was that it was daated June 2015 and the bank said it was out-of-date. That is, in fact, wrong; a cheque  is valid for 6 years, but banks have taken it on themseves to refuse to pay cheques over 6 MONTHS old. To cut a long story short, and after a number of phone calls and internet searches, I finally dioscovered it was one of those incentive payments you get  if you take out (in this instance) an insurance pollicy. So i’ve sent Halifax the cheque and asked for a new one.

If you’re interested in Leicester and Leicestershire books , we’ve just had a huge intake of these that has entailked reorganising the shop - 3 shelves of them. Do pop along to take a look!

From here on the diary is in reverse chronological order

Monday 14th January 2013

Anyway, here comes my first grump of the year: why is it these days at theatre shows that people appear compelled to start clapping in slow time whenever music with anything resembling a steady beat starts up? In the olden days a slow hand clap was a way of expressing disapproval with the entertainer. Of course, there are occasions, especially in pantomime, when the audience is encouraged to clap in time with the music, but these days (and the Plus Grand Cabaret was no exception), every opportunity seems to be taken to mindlessly slow clap - even when the performers (as in this case) are executing amazing feats of  dance, acrobatics or what have you. As the music gradually loses its more incessant beat, or changes its rhythm, the audience still tries to clap in time, but gradually  give up trying to synchronise with the band. Why oh why can’t people just sit in their seats and enjoy the music and the performers without feeling compelled to ‘join in’ at every opportunity?

Tuesday, 15th January

We had an inch or so of snow yesterday. East Midlands news on BBC TV interviewed the man in charge of road gritting and established the facts that a) the council have a good stock of salt and b) they are gritting the roads. I would have thought that that goes without saying. They don’t interview Sainsbury’s to see if they have a good stock of bread and are selling it do they? These days the merest hint of snow in the forecast sends news people into a frenzy, issuing yellow warnings and rushing round photographing cars driving along perfectly clear roads with an inch or so of snow on the grass verges at the side. The trouble is that most of these news people are younger people for whom snow is a novelty. Until a couple of years ago  we had had a run of very mild winters when snow was indeed a rarity. The last substantial snowfall I can remember prior to last year was in 1985. So anyone born after about 1980 regards any snowfall as an exceptional event. We’re just back to something approaching the norm, that’s all.

Friday 18th January

I’ve just had my annual demand from the Phonographic Rights Society or whatever they call themselves for payment of over £100 +VAT for the privilege of playing CDs in my shop. Why on earth should anyone have to pay to play CDs that they have bought? The performers have already had their cut when the CD was sold, and what I do with it once I’ve bought it is up to me. Why should I have to pay to play the CD in my shop? I sell photographs as a sideline, but I don’t demand extra payment if the purchaser displays the photograph in their shop, and I really can’t see what the difference is, except that CDs have to be LISTENED to, and photographs have to be LOOKED at. Of course, if i were to copy the CDs and sell the copies, that would be a different matter. Incidentally, you even have to pay for a  licence if you play the things in, say, a staff canteen. Apart from the Phonographic people who represent the performers, you are also supposed to pay a fee to the Performing Rights Society, who represent the composers of the music. But if you stick to classical people like Bach etc it doesn’t apply, as they’ve been dead long enough.

Tuesday 29th January

I can’t understand what all the fuiss is about over the HS2 railway. China took just over three years to build a high speed line three times as long as the proposed HS2, but they reckon our version will take 20 years! Also, if I had a house near to the propoed route, I would much rather have a railway line built nearby than a motorway. The former just produces a brief noise intermittently; a motorway produces a constant noise day and night

It’s about time business in the shop picked up.

Tuesday 2nd April

Well, I haven’t been here for a bit, so thought I’d have a moan about the puerile so-called ‘music’ played in ASDA. Pop music constantly been  piped at you as you try to do your shopping (quite apart from the marketing announcement constantly telling me what I ought to be buying) is completely counter-productive, as I just get out of the place as quickly as possible. Complaining to the store, to customer services and to head office has no effect. Because they sell the cheapest wine and eggs around, I am forced to keep going there, but have just sent for a pair of ear muff defenders from Ebay which I will wear prominently on my future visits.

Thursday, 2nd May

We send a few books out by mail order, and Royal Mail have just increased their charges. The new price régime is such that Royal Mail is now not viable for anything over 1kg in weight.  A parcel weighing 1000g goes for £2.60 2nd class  - one weighing 1001g costs £5.60 - that’s £3 for an extra gram! Previously they had a stepped scale in small increments (like walking up stairs). Now it’s like getting from one floor to the next in one step. How mad is that? Anything over 1kg in weight now goes by Connect+ which costs just £3.99 up to 2kg and we just fdrop it off at a shop down the street. No wonder Royal Mail is struggling. (Incidentally they have also reduced the compensation for lost parcels from £46 to £20). Hopeless.

Friday 4th October

Doesn’t time fly?

Sent an email to the Today programme yesterday to complain about the so-called weather forecast that they give out every half-hour. They seem to compete to see who can condense it most. Yesterday morning at 7.30am the announcer just said ‘Wet’ - despite the fact that the actual forecast was very varied depending on time of day and location.They might as well say when they give out the news something like:” Fighting, killing, politics’. Talk about dumbing down ...

I’ve recently bought a bike in an effort to exercise creaking joints. Don’t believe anyone who says that you never forget how to ride a bike. You do after 50 years ....

Saturday 3rd May

Having been gently reminded by one of my readers (possibly the only one), that I have not updated this diary for some time, I thought I’d have another go. Lots has happened to me since the last entry - the principal one being that I have had a new hip! Nothing to grumble about in that department.

However, I do grumble about the Oxford English Dictionary people who apparently have decided to include the word ‘literally’ in the next edition as meaning exactly the opposite i.e. metaphorically. So if you say that someone was literally caught with their trousers down, you won’t know now whether or not it was meant literally or metaphorically, and you won’t know whether the object in question was trouserless or not. They attempt to justify this massacre of the English language by saying that the dictionary should reflect how people use words, and not how they should use them. Taken to its logical conclusion, they may as well adopt the same rule for spelling, and allow recieved and becoz as being all right because that’s how some people spell them ...

However, apparently the full 3rd edition of the dictionary (the last one was in 1989) probably will never be printed, as it won’t be ready for another 15 years or so, and it will be twice as big i.e. 40 volumes, and they are doubtful if there will be a demand, especially as by then you will probably be able to download it onto a memory stick (in fact, you can now).

We were told a few weeks ago that RPI was now 2.7% and the average wage had gone up by 2.8% so hip hip hooray we are out of recession. Well, it may be OK if your wage is above the average (i.e. you are amongst the top 50% of the population, assuming that by ‘average’ they mean ‘median’), but if you’re in the bottom half of the population your wage increase has not kept up with inflation. But they don’t tell you that. And that explains why market town high streets resemble deserted villages with tumbleweed blowing down the empty streets, though there is probably a surge in the demand for luxury yachts.

Tuesday 6th May

This must be a record - it’s only 3 days since my last update!

I went to see a musical at the Leicester Curve Theatre last night. If I wanted a programme it would have cost me £6! When I go to the local school’s musical shows, their programmes are 50p or £1. They are well-produced and give me all the information I need about the show - a list of the different scenes, a précis of the plot, a bit of history, and the names of everyone involved. It seems to be the norm in big theaatres these days to try to rip the audience off by charging ludicrous prices for these big full-colour glossy programmes that you don’t have time to read before the show anyway and justy get thrown away afterwards. I saw hardly anyone with a programme and the programme sellers were having a hard time getting anyone to buy one. Having paid £25 for my ticket (and that was wrinklies’ rate), I would have thought they could have provided a basic programme gratis.

Saturday 17th January 2015

How time flies! Secondhand bookshops continue to decline, though, so I am told,  not so fast as the charity bookshops. If you’re reading this, you are presumably a book person, so make sure that your favourite bookshop is still there next time you visit it by visiting it with a full wallet more frequently. We don’t make a fortune (in fact, we don’t make anything at all), but it would be nice to cover costs.

Since my last entry, I have discovered that you can’t send batteries or perfume (along with guns, explosives etc) by post any more. Nor can you buy old-fashioned moth balls (they were banned by the EU in 2008), and of course, sodium chlorate for killing weeds was made illegal some time ago. The odd thing is that you can still buy batteries on Ebay (and they are sent by post), though it took me three attempts to get some delivered, and the alternatives to naphthalene moth balls and Sodium Chlorate  weedkiller are ridiculously expensive. I see that you can also buy naphthalene moth balls on Ebay rom Australia.

Yesterday I sent a parcel by MyHermes. To do that you have to go online and fill in the details of the parcel - weight, dimensions etc., pay for it with PayPal, then eventually download the labels to stick on the parcel. Of one of the labels, you are asked to put it inside the parcel. That, of course, is after you have made up the parcel for measuring and weighing. I often wonder about the intelligence of those who control our world.

The world is getting madder by the day.

Friday 20th March 2015

I watched the eclipse this morning. I forgot I had to have something to look at the sun through until the last minute, so found a few old 35mm colour slides, put them together, and looked through them. Brilliant. I also managed to get a few photopgraphs, though that is really a problem with an object as bright as the Sun.I’m glad I  saw it today - I doubt if I’ll get to see the next one in 2090.

The latest news is that the popularity of Kindle and the like is on the decline. People are beginning to realise that it is much nicer to read from a book that from an electronic screen.. An, of course, books are time=proof. No matter what technological changes are inflicted on us in the years to come, you will always be able to pick up a printed book and read it, long after video-discs (remember them?), Cassette tapes,  CDs and DVDs and Bluray are relegated to the scrapheap of old technology. Even the British Library are re-thinking their policy of digitising everything.

Just bought a new TV. I had no idea that they have invented a way of showing 2-D films in 3-D. They essentially just show two images slightly displaced from each other, and give you a pair of polarising glasses. Much like regular 3-D but the images are identical, so the effect is probably not quite so good as properly shot stereoscopic film, but the result is pretty good nevertheless - especially for those dramatic outdoor shots of montains and the sea.