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1:11pm on Sunday, 26th October, 2014:

Book Fair


It's the annual NSPCC book fair weekend here in Colchester, which I always attend if I can because it has some really interesting books in it. I could spend hours looking through the boxes of second-hand books they have for sale.

Well, normally I could. This year, I left after 30 minutes.

It's been going downhill for the past couple of years, to be honest. There used to be a section of old books — ones over 100 years old, in the main. There is no such section now. Either no-one is donating them, or they're being pre-sold to specialist dealers. I like old books, because they tell you so much about the times in which they were written. Today, the oldest book I saw was one on mathematical formulae to be used by steam engineers, dating from the 1930s (and in the same "technology" box as Windows 98 for Dummies). There were far too many books on gardening and cooking — it's as if they just bring out the ones they were unable to sell last year and add to them the ones that have been dumped on them in the interrim.

There is actually another reason I came back earlier than expected. Normally, there are people with come in wearing backpacks and obliviously block all movement in the narrow aisles between the boxes of books, so I expect that. What I don't expect are people who smell bad. There were three of them wandering around this year, and it was really quite unpleasant when one got near. I wasn't the only person to notice, either. The men (they were all men) in question didn't look as if they were tramps who'd just come in from a night sleeping underneath sheep, but they certainly smelled that way.

I looked at all the books that weren't fiction. I looked at the board games. I almost bought a book on Christmas in Victorian times, but it seemed to lump the entire Victorian period into one as if 1900 was the same as 1850. I went home with an empty bag, disappointed.

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Copyright © 2014 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).