I had a good time on Saturday, signing books for customers at Hale Bookshop, near Altrincham. The shop, run by Lynne Pollitt, is a good example of a first rate indie bookstore, the type that really needs to be supported in the current climate. Use them or lose them, is the reality.
Lynn and her assistant Sam made us very welcome, and even produced coffee in an Anthony Berkeley 'Not to be Taken' mug identical to my own! I was impressed by the vibrancy of the Hale community, even in these times, which are so difficult for retailers. We talked about the possibility of a Hale Festival, and I do think that a well organised cultural festival is a very good way of binding a community together. Of course, it tends to work best in a community that's already strong, but it can work anywhere, if motivated and efficient people run it, and are willing to put in the time, almost inevitably for love rather than money.
An example is the Lymm Festival. On Friday night we went to a celebration in lovely surroundings of the tenth festival in our village. It's been extremely successful, and is now being looked on as a model for other places seeking to set up something similar. I've been lucky enough to be involved in various ways, judging writing competitions and giving talks, and it's great fun. One thing we do lack in Lymm, though, is a bookshop. So Hale has a head start, and an excellent literary hub to build cultural events around.