Wednesday, March 01, 2006

My JR Hartley moment.

Some of you may not remember, or may have never seen, the TV ads for Yellow Pages featuring the gentle old cove who trudged endlessly round book shops asking for a copy of 'Fly Fishing' by JR Hartley.

"Still no luck, Dad?" sympathised his daughter, as he sank back wearily into his favourite armchair. Said daughter then presented him with the Yellow Pages, suggesting that he tried phoning around, rather than wearing out any more shoe leather and old bones.

Cut to Dad on phone, obviously ecstatic at finding a bookshop that had the title: "You do!" There was a bit of voice over I seem to remember, then back to the old fellow saying: "My name?" He enunciates clearly: "JR Hartley."

Okay, well, a similar, but actually quite different thing happened to me tonight on the way to Tottenham Court Road tube station. Every night I have to walk past the Waterstone's branch on Oxford Street. And every night I'm tempted to go in and ask them the question: "Hey, you bastards, are you going to stock my book or what?"

Up till now I've resisted it. But tonight, I finally gave in. Except I didn't put it quite like that.

I know from TGFAMNW (The Good Folk at Macmillan New Writing) that Waterstone's are taking the books. But I just wanted to be sure that my book was going to be in the branch nearest to my place of work. Some of my colleagues have expressed an interest in buying it. And besides, I will need to be able to go in there and mess with their displays so that my books are showing.

So I plucked up courage and approached the guy at the counter. I have to say, he gave me a funny look right from the start - as if he knew me! or knew what I was about.

"Would you be able to tell me if you were going to order a book? It's not out yet."

"Yes." The funny look got funnier. It was, I would say, an arch look.

"It's called Taking Comfort." Somehow, memories of JR Hartley prevented me from giving my name.

He went to the computer. "Taking Comfort by Roger Morris?"

"That's right."

"Yes, we'll be getting it. Are you Roger Morris?"

"Yes!" I couldn't really do anything about my amazement. There it was, his now, a gift for him to play with.

He gave a small but triumphant smile. "You'd be surprised how many authors we get in here asking about their books."

I suppose I'd better get used to having encounters with smart alec bookshop assistants.

1 comment:

Anne Marie said...

Thanks for that - my first earnest laugh today. About time too, as it's past noon.