B-day arrives. The day that 1000 copies of Remember Then are supposed to descend on my doorstep. Well not actually on my doorstep but on a driveway near me. I am not supposed to lift much following the car accident so I have enlisted help. Unfortunately the help I have enlisted isn’t supposed to lift either! Ten out of ten to the delivery driver who finds my house without being misled by his sat-nav/enquiring at the local shop/phoning me in desperation/giving up and going home all of which have been resorted to in the past. I have been asked in advance if there are any narrow lanes to negotiate. I live in the middle of nowhere, of course there are narrow lanes.
The delivery lorry is quite large, it is rush hour, traffic is at a standstill ok, for traffic read one car and a tractor but at a standstill nonetheless. My pallet of books is duly deposited. Said pallet is the focus of attention for my assistant – it will be firewood by tomorrow. The books are shrink wrapped in packets of 16. That means an awful lot of packets, more indeed than we anticipated as it turns out that my 1000 copies is actually 1146. Weird number I know but that is how many there are. Living as I do in a very small cottage this poses somewhat of a problem. I have persuaded my trusty assistant that he must have a bed at home that needs supporting with several hundred books underneath. That still leaves a ridiculous amount for me. Far more than my already overflowing loft can cope with. I stow a few packets in the cupboard under the stairs. A few more (far too few) fit under the spare bed. The only option is to leave a not insignificant pile in the tiny spare bedroom. By my reckoning it will be two years before I get said spare bedroom back, to say nothing of the rest of my house and as for my assistant’s ……..
Fortunately my lovely ladies who contributed to the book and others have been ordering copies so some are already winging their way to new homes. One lady collects eight copies, now all I need is 100 more like her ……. In order for this winging to commence, books have to be wrapped and posted. A quirk of the Post Office’s pricing structure means that, although some people have ordered several copies, it is cheaper to post these singly. So my initial tranch of orders from twenty-five people needs to be fifty parcels. An industrial scale production line is set up on the kitchen table. I have been hording bubble wrap for this for ages. Resisting the temptation to spend the morning popping bubble wrap instead, we begin signing, wrapping and addressing books. Two rolls of brown paper and one roll of brown sticky tape later we have a pile of not very elegantly wrapped books. Brown sticky tape is second only to cling-film in the non-user friendly all-time list. Now to post. The mobile post van is outside my house. There is already a queue of eight people waiting in the rain. Anyone who ends up behind me in the queue will not be thrilled that I have fifty parcels, all of which need proof of posting. Aside from which the van only has another half-hour before it departs for its next stop, so it is off to the Post Office six miles away. Two circuits of the block are required before a parking place appears. Then half an hour to get the pile of books on their way. The poor assistant had to renew his printer roll to produce all the proof of posting slips. Good job we didn’t try the post van option.
So in the interests of returning my home to some sort of normality/retaining my sanity orders are very welcome. If you remember the 1950s and 1960s you should enjoy reading it. I can say that as it isn’t really my work, although my name is on the cover, it is the work of my wonderful volunteers. Even if this period is distant history it is a fascinating insight into the recent past. If you have thoughts about writing your own memories, the book gives you guidance. Further details can be found here.