Monday, February 2, 2009


Just a few snippets of news today while I have a quiet snigger at all those people down in London panicking over a couple of centimetres of snow. Come on, folks... when we lived in Yorkshire, we used to wake up with more snow than that inside the bedroom. Or am I just being a wee bit smug about working from home? Write and let me know!

The good news for Derbyshire as a result of this "snow event" (as the BBC have just called it) was that the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, whose name is Mr Ed Balls, had to cancel a visit to open Derby's first 'skills academy'. There must be scope for a really great headline there somewhere...

Of course, the Peak District had twice as much snow as anywhere else in England, and the famous Snake Pass was closed today - but that happens every winter.

Elsewhere, it seems that people are turning to their local libraries in greater numbers - at least in Scotland. Good news for libraries - but maybe not such good news for bookshops? I'm always sorry to see independent bookstores closing, and I was particularly sad to hear news of the recent demise of Murder One, London's (in fact, the UK's) leading mystery bookstore. The full story of what owner Maxim Jakubowski is up to can be read on today's Rapsheet blog.

Finally, we all know that rabbits can be a terrible pest in the countryside. So I loved this story today from the Press Association on one farmer's novel approach to pest control, featuring a gun-totin' cow.


  1. Have these silly rabbits never heard of Birnham wood marching along?
    My family and I also enjoyed watching ´these Londoners´ despairing because of an inch of snow. We live near Jutland´s new national park in Thy, which is not exactly Peak District but we had a proper snowstorm last winter, closing the school where I teach for three days.
    Glad I (or some friends of mine, really) have found your blog.

  2. Usually book shops and libraries get along famously. Some years ago I read a study (gone missing from the brain, now, of course) that found bookshops located near libraries benefited. But of course these days (at least in the states) libraries are being used because they don't cost money and are heated and because they provide Internet access, which people are sometimes cutting from their budgets due to lost jobs. And applying for jobs usually has to happen over the Internet. Catch 22.

    The other irony is that while libraries are busy, they too are losing funding because of tight public finances.

    Ah well, back to those hearty days of the Great Depression. And we walked uphill both ways to school through eight-foot snowdrifts.

  3. Around here it's walked 8 miles to school through locust plagues and dust storms. But it's sad to see bookshops closing anywhere - having now moved to somewhere where there are NO bookshops (well shops for that matter - I'm feeling the loss of a browse through the bookshop very very acutely).

    In one way I'm glad that people are returning to libraries (and hope that they survive). And that's not just because the nearest one to here (about 20ks away) is air-conditioned. There's something about that shared experience of books that sitting in a library engenders that helps kickstart the life-long habit.

  4. I grew up in a small village in Derbyshire and we were always 'snowed in' for two or three days every year, I don't ever remember the school closing though. I also remember being caught in a snow blizzard on the Snake Pass, too. It is a great shame about the gradual loss of independent bookshops and I'm probably not helping the situation as I'm sitting here with 5 library books just waiting to be read:)

  5. I've always been a huge supporter of libraries, and not only because of the great work that library staff do. Libraries are a place where readers can discover new authors - they might not want to lash out £16.99 to buy a book by someone they've never heard of, but they'll take it out of the library and give it a try. Then, if they like it, we hope they'll become buyers!

    It's great when it works this way. But if all those new library users are people who would previously have bought books, then it could be bad news for some authors.

    Remember that many publishers will drop you like a shot if your sales fall below a certain level.

  6. If it's any consolation that's exactly the way I work Stephen (plus I tend to use libraries for obscure non-fiction reading). But I was trained at an early age that you had to buy your own copies of the books you loved, because libraries were inconsiderate enough to lend them to somebody else - just when I wanted to have another look.

    Which probably explains why I now have 40 boxes of unpacked books in the shed :)