Am "proofing" the UK edition of the book. What this entails is staring at 300 pages till you go cross-eyed. If I stayed in my own office, I would eat my own hands out of sheer boredom. Instead and in an attempt to keep myself awake I have spent the last two days on a coffee bender round the cafes of the local market town. I am not proud of myself - I may have to start wearing a caffeine patch if this process takes much longer. Still I have found a cafe where they smile at you when you go in and which serves a great bacon sandwich. Yesterday I also spent an hour and a half in the new supermarket's cafe which has big windows and about the same amount of time in a hotel bistro which has deep and comfortable armchairs. Both yesterday and today I spent time in a big second hand bookshop.
This is a second hand bookshop like no second hand bookshop you have ever seen. It used to be a railway station which could be why so many men with beards haunt it. The only downside is that it is very cold so you have to wear your coat at all times. Either that or huddle in front of one of the blazing coal fires. A model railway track runs overhead and lines of Gerald Manley Hopkins and Tennyson poetry connect the columns of books. The original Victorian station is everywhere around - the pitched rooves, the ticket offices, the enormous clocks but books instead of trains carry people away. I looked at the door painted with the words "old waiting room", shelves of books reflected in its glass panels. I could see a fire burning in the darkness and the pages of a newspaper turning as if by themselves. Pushing open the door, I stepped into the room that waited for me. Pale green tiles and oak benches lined the walls. I moved along some chintz cushions, dumped my bag on the bench and pulled the table closer. As I hauled out the proofs to my "Should I stay or Should I go now" book and dug out my roller-ball, I glanced up at the huge hanging lamp. A wrought-iron lamp inscribed with fabled destinations - Shangri-la, Toytown, Camelot and the words "et in Arcadia ego".