Welcome to The Bookshop Band, our newest residents at The Open Book
Day one at The Open Book - The Night Time Drive
We packed down from a Beth Porter and the Availables gig at Bournemouth Folk Club on Sunday night and were pleased to find out we were in the car before 11pm thanks to Ben's great car packing. We had a bag of snacks including nuts, seeds, mini eggs and some stocking fillers left over from Christmas and were getting quite excited by the prospect of eating these on the journey. We also had some ideas for car games. We were ready for the big drive. Ben put 'Wigtown' into the map on his phone but unfortunately it didn't exist on it. Well, we thought, we could start off by putting in 'Carlisle'. It'll be a while before we get there!
It wasn't until Manchester that we allowed ourselves to open the mini eggs. It was like a mini reward for getting that far. As we got to Cumbria, we both started to feel quite tired and decided that a power nap would probably be a good idea. It worked. After that the already windy drive got more windy and rainy too. Ben observed that the rain was horizontal. Me, being the driver said 'I know'. The weather report on the news said that Scotland had high winds. We felt those in the little Micra too!
As we were getting closer to Wigtown (by now we'd found the postcode) it started to get light. It was quite a relief after the blinding headlights of numerous lorries and the spray that went with them from the wind and rain. We could see the coast line and the water and were really looking forward to being there (and possibly going to bed for an hour).
We arrived just after 8am and went straight to bed to grab an hours sleep before we had to open the shop. At 9.30am Ben went to make a cup of tea and in getting the milk from the car managed to lock the keys in it. Luckily, the AA were very efficient and sent a local chap from Newton Stewart to sort it. We got our equipment out and Ben set up his mixing studio in the shop. Anne came in with the info we needed for running the shop and we were ready.
We're not expecting masses of customers whilst we are up here so we have brought lots to get on with. As well as the mixing and practicing we have brought a sewing machine, podcasts of This American Life and Radio Lab (also useful for the journey, and we may have to write a song inspired by Emma Hooper's new book Etta and Otto and Russell and James).
We did encounter a handful of customers on Day One however, including local writer originally from Northern Ireland, Desmond Batley who is also a great story teller and told us about his brother and Appalachian music. He said we should visit the place where the American mountain music comes from. I've been trying to play some old time tunes on my fiddle and may get him to play us a tune on his banjo if he comes back in! We also had two school children and a woman looking for Agatha Christie. As we weren't yet that familiar with our stock, Ben said that she was welcome to have a look, to tell him where the crime section was if she found it, and when she couldn’t sent her to The Bookshop down the road.
We familiarised ourselves a bit more with The Open Book and made a little musical window display. We may see if we can find some more music books for it. I did a bit of violin playing upstairs while Ben held the fort. We closed up at 5pm and realised we had time for one more little snooze before heading to Shaun and Jessica's for dinner at 7.
A little more fresh faced, we went round and had a really lovely evening above The Bookshop and met their actor friend Richard. We talked about running bookshops, music and we put the world to rights. Much red wine was had and we felt very welcomed into the Wigtown community.
We got back to the flat and had a restful sleep and we were glad that we didn't have to drive anywhere.
Day Two - The Plan
So, having rested, we’ve made a plan for the next couple of weeks, and it involves you!!!
When we open the shop at 10am I will start the day with cello exercises in the shop for an hour or so. Then from lunch time through the afternoon Ben will be sat behind the counter mixing one of our book-inspired songs to get it ready for inclusion on one of our next albums. You are all of course welcome to come into the shop at any time, but at 5.15pm each day Ben will be doing a special show & tell for 15 minutes, where people can come and listen to song he has been working on all day - it’ll give him a daily deadline. He’ll play the full mix of the song back to anyone who’d like to listen, and any feedback will be gratefully received.