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Showing posts from July, 2021

Reeve & McIntyre Big Up Bookshops: The Bookshop on the Green

 The next stop on Kevin’s Bookshop Tour was The Bookshop on the Green at Bournville . At first he wasn’t sure how he was going to find it, but as he drew closer one of his favourite smells began to fill the air. It was the smell of chocolate, and where there was chocolate, thought Kevin, there would probably be chocolate biscuits. He followed the smell all the way to the Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory. Nearby, clustered around its triangular village green, was Bournville, and there under a wavy roof was the Bookshop on the Green. But to Kevin’s disgust, it was full of unicorns! Kevin hated unicorns, they were so full of themselves, always posing under waterfalls with their rainbow manes and glittery hooves. They would probably have eaten all the biscuits too, he thought, as two friendly squirrels guided him down to land on the bookshop roof. That would be just the sort of thing unicorns would do - they had No Consideration For Others. Luckily, his friend Daisy was waiting f

Reeve & McIntyre Big Up Bookshops: Max Minerva's Marvellous Books

  Kevin had arrived at journey’s end! He had flown hundreds of miles, and eaten thousands of biscuits. Now Max Minerva’s Marvellous Books in Bristol was to be the final stop on his great bookshop tour. His best friend Daisy joined him for the last leg of the journey, and when they swooped down outside Max Minerva’s there was his other best friend Max waiting in the doorway. “Well done, Kevin!” shouted Max, as Kevin touched down. “You’ve visited fourteen whole bookshops! What have you learned?” Kevin looked a bit blank. “Biscuits?” he said. “Never mind,” laughed Max. “Come inside, and meet Jess, she’s one of the booksellers here.” So Kevin followed him in. He had no idea why he had been asking booksellers all over the country the same list of questions, but it usually seemed to end up with biscuits, so he thought he would give it one more go. When Max introduced him to bookseller Jessica Paul , he clered his throat and put on his best interviewing voice. Kevin: What is the be

Reeve & McIntyre Big Up Bookshops: Chicken and Frog

 From the Alligator’s Mouth bookshop in Richmond, Kevin flew east-north-east into the wilds of exotic Essex , where he had an appointment in Brentwood with a chicken and a frog. But not just any old chicken and frog, oh no. This particular avian/amphibian duo had their own bookshop. Kevin was impressed by their entrepreneurial spirit, and also by their biscuits, which they had arranged on a posh cake-stand on the table outside the shop to welcome him as he touched down. They even seemed to have a biscuit tree, on which ripe custard creams and jammy dodgers were growing. Kevin decided to ask Max and Daisy if they could plant some biscuit trees when he got back to Bumbleford. But first he had a mission to complete. He wasn’t just here to eat biscuits. He also needed to ask some serious questions so he could add Chicken and Frog Bookshop to his record-breaking bookshop tour. * But while he was eating the biscuits and checking to make sure he hadn’t missed any, Chicken and Fr

Reeve & McIntyre Big Up Bookshops: The Alligator's Mouth

Kevin was a bit alarmed when he saw that the next leg of his Bookshop Tour involved flying to Richmond and going into an Alligator’s Mouth. He didn’t know very much about alligators, but he had an idea that they were rather spiky, unfriendly characters and roly-poly flying ponies were probably better off not going into their mouths. But the small flying alligator who turned up to guide him to Richmond seemed nice enough, and so did the large and well-dressed one who was waiting for him when he landed. And it turned out Kevin didn’t have to go into its mouth, only into the bookshop, which was called ‘ The Alligator’s Mouth ’. It was all rather confusing really, but there was a nice big plate of custard creams for him, so Kevin didn’t mind. Suitably fortified, but still a little wary, he went inside the shop to interview bookseller Helen . Kevin: What’s the best thing about being an alligator - I mean, a bookseller? Helen: You mean, apart from the biscuit eating and tea drin

Reeve & McIntyre Big Up Bookshops 9: The Bookcase

  Kevin’s stay at Halfway Up the Stairs in Greystones had been fun, but he had basically finished all the biscuits in Ireland (sorry about that, Irish biscuit lovers), so he decided it was time to flap back across the sea to England. The next shop on his list was The Bookcase , in the village of Lowdham, eight miles north of Nottingham. "More than just a bookshop" was its motto, and when Kevin arrived in Lowdham he found that was true - The Bookcase was also an Active Crime Scene! As Kevin swooped in to land a tiny, red getaway car driven by a tiny, furry criminal came screeching around the corner of the shop. The car was stuffed with a stolen book, and among the flowers in the window-box another fluffy wrong-doer lurked, ready to leap aboard as it sped by. The robbers were none other than Bumbleford’s own guinea-pig Bonnie-and-Clyde-alikes Neville and Beyoncé, enjoying another crime spree. “Floor it, Bey!” squeaked Neville, as he vaulted out of the window-box wi

Reeve & McIntyre Big Up Bookshops 8: Halfway Up The Stairs

Kevin had enjoyed his week at Little Acorns Bookstore in Derry. With a tummy full of traybake and Biscoffs, he said his goodbyes and took off. He flew south over the border and down the coast. As he flapped over Dublin, Dun Laoghaire, and Black Rock he saw the Irish Riviera was basking in blazing sunshine as usual, and the ice cream shops were doing a rare old trade. But Kevin wasn’t all that interested in ice cream - it was too cold, and not biscuity enough. He wondered what exciting biscuits would be waiting for him at Halfway Up The Stairs in Greystones? When he landed outside the shop he found that it wasn’t half way up any stairs at all, it was just on a street, like a normal shop. To his surprise, his friend Cardigan Faun was there, along with all his family. “I’m certainly meeting a lot of people from back home in Bumbleford on this International Bookshop Tour,” said Kevin. “That’s because this picture of a bookshop was painted by Sarah McIntyre, and we’re the pe

Reeve & McIntyre Big Up Bookshops 7: Little Acorns Bookstore, Derry

Kevin was sorry to leave Wales, but he had eaten all the custard creams in Crickhowell, and all the Welsh Cakes too. It was time to fly on to his next appointment, across the Irish Sea to the Little Acorns Bookstore in Derry. Would there be Irish Cakes? Kevin was eager to find out. When he landed, he recognised a familiar face. But it wasn’t just a familiar face - that would have been weird. No, the familiar face was attached to a familiar body and some familiar arms and legs, and they all belonged to Misty Twiglet, Bumbleford’s own Pop Sensation. She had brought Cedric the Centaur with her, and also a pet pug, whose name was Love Missile F1-11. “But what are you doing here?” asked Kevin, confused. “Oh I buy ALL my books at Little Acorns Bookstore,” said Misty, mistily. “I’ve just been recording a duet with famous Irish songstress Lána Bus and I popped in on my way home to pick up the latest bestseller by Reeve and McIntyre.” “By who? ” asked Kevin. But he wasn’t here to d

Reeve & McIntyre Big Up Bookshops 6: Book-ish, Crickhowell

 Kevin’s next stop was in Wales, the Land of Song, so he hummed a happy tune to himself as he flew over the Black Mountains. Unfortunately he got a bit lost - what was the name of the town he was supposed to be landing at? Crickhollow? Crockhole? Cricklehill? None of those sounded quite right. He sat down on top of a handy mountain for a Think and a Restorative Biscuit, and while he was sitting there a small red dragon came by. “Hello Kevin!” said the dragon. “Do you need me to show around? This is the Land of my Fathers!” “Belling!” said Kevin. “I didn’t know you were Welsh.” “All dragons are Welsh, Kevin-bach,” said Belling. And when Kevin explained that he was looking for a bookshop called Book-ish, he said, “Oh, I know it well; it’s in Crickhowell, a pretty little town, not far from here.” “I knew it was called Crickle-something,” said Kevin. He flew after Belling, and pretty soon they landed outside Book-ish . “There you go, boyo,” said Belling, who was really getting int

Excalibur at Forty

It's hard to believe forty years have passed since I watched Excalibur rise from the lake. It was Sunday, July 5th, 1981, around 2.45 in the afternoon, and I was in the ABC Cinema in Brighton. I remember it as if it were yesterday. In paintings and illustrations Excalibur often emerges from the lake at an angle. Sometimes it's in a scabbard and the Lady of the Lake grasps it by the middle; you can imagine her waggling it about to get Arthur's attention. But in Excalibur it rushes straight up, the misty water parting with a ripple around the eerily green-lit blade until at last the hilt breaks the surface, scattering slow-motion droplets like seed pearls.It's like watching the launch of an Apollo rocket. From the trees at the water's edge, mission controller Merlin looks on in awe. What he's probably wondering is, what happens next? Does he have a little boat moored among the roots to get him out to the middle of the mere where the sword is waiting for him? Or