In my column for the March 2021 issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News, I was talking all about books – no surprises there, except for the announcement of a new free book resource in the village which I launched on World Book Day, with Councillor John Turner representing Hawkesbury Parish Council. Drum-roll please for “Books on the Bus“…
Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher, thought books were conversation killers: monologues that denied readers the chance to engage in discussion. Despite being credited now as one of the founders of Western philosophy, Socrates never wrote a single book. We only know his thoughts through books by Plato and others.
Socrates’ preferred method of exchanging ideas was to hold a conversation while strolling around the walls of Athens. If he were alive today, during lockdown he’d have to resort to Zoom.
In our Zoom-crazy age, in which we expect every public speaker on screen to have a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf behind him, Socrates’ backdrop would be book-free. He’d probably prefer to display a statue of an owl, symbol of Athena, goddess of wisdom, and of his beloved city of Athens, and maybe a Grecian urn or two.
Books by the Yard
But if media pressure persuaded him to join the bookshelf brigade, I know of the perfect solution to fill his bookshelves at one fell swoop: a call to Books by the Yard, a service offered by my favourite second-hand bookshop, The Bookbarn . Based near Wells, The Bookbarn not only sells pre-loved and vintage books individually to callers (though closed to visitors just now due to the pandemic), it also offers a shelf-filling service. Until now, it’s been mainly the preserve of stage set designers and themed pubs and hotels seeking an instant bookish look.
Despite the closure of theatres and hospitality venues during lockdown, their Books by the Yard business has been soaring lately. The reason? Zoom backdrop envy.
Books on the Bus
If you’re hankering after a new read, there’s no need to travel to The Bookbarn – although once we’re allowed out to play again, it’ll be one of the first places I head for. From Thursday 4th March, for World Book Day, there’ll be a new Books on the Bus box in the bus shelter opposite Hawkesbury Stores. I’ll be keeping the box stocked with books for all ages to give bus passengers something to keep them entertained while waiting for their bus and on their journey.
You don’t need a bus ticket to borrow from Books on the Bus. As for the Little Free Library on my front wall, you’re welcome to help yourself in passing. Return or keep the books you borrow, as you wish. Donations of more books in good condition will always be appreciated.
Thanks to Hawkesbury Parish Council for providing the plastic box to kick the scheme off, and to the kind donors around the parish who have given me more than enough books to fill the Books on the Bus box initially.
Even so, I don’t think Socrates need worry. There’s no danger that books will ever put a stop to conversation in Hawkesbury.
IN OTHER NEWS
Writing Workshop (19th April)
If you’re interested in writing, you might like to attend an online event I’m doing on Monday 19th April, I’ll be answering FAQs about writing as part of the Wrexham Carnival of Words. This is just one session of an action-packed festival behind held online because of Covid. You can find out more about the whole programme here: www.wrexhamcarnivalofwords.com)
Collected Columns in Book Form
If you’d like to read the archive of my columns for the Hawkesbury Parish News, you might like to know that they’re also available in book form in two volumes. Here are the buying links for the paperbacks and the ebooks: