A couple of years ago I was at an event called Bodies in the Bookshop at Heffers Bookshop in Cambridge. It’s a venerable institution, crammed with volumes, but the press of people and authors (about 30 of us) all signing books for people, wasn’t the best for preserving sanity.
This year they invited me back, and the setup has changed. It was on a Saturday, rather than a weekday evening, and consisted of eight different panels. I was on one concerning historical crime, along with Ros Barber, Robin Blake, Rory Clements and Peter Moore – with whom I had a great discussion, as we’ve both worked as music journalists. Well moderated, it was a joy, but perhaps the biggest thrill was that it took place in the debating chamber at Cambridge Union, where so many august people have spoken. That alone made it all worthwhile.
I’d love to say it offered a chance to mingle with other writers, but there was little of that. I had a brief walk around the town before the event (my son and I had done Cambridge properly two years back), then a quick trip to Fopp afterwards, where the Black Keys’Brothers and a 2-CD best of Bob Dylan for a fiver each really made the trip worthwhile, before heading back home.
But it was very enjoyable, a chance to talk and be directed, a contrast to a different event in Leeds earlier in the week at Oxfam Books. That, too, was a joy, hopefully helping them put a little money in their coffers and to show my son an area of Leeds where I spent a couple of years before moving to the US, and a visit to old stomping grounds.