It was quite by chance that we saw the tail of a television programme about the giving-away of books in Trafalgar Square. We understood from what we saw that it was the start of a week when new books were given away for free.
Only a few days before, we had closed down our own Mudlark Press as, with no further publicity, and no distribution, not to mention that several dockland books were a little out of date, orders had declined. In fact, it had come to the state when the nearly 100% increase in the cost of our P.O. Box number almost outweighed our annual income.
This left us with quite a few books that we had stored around the house – now taking up room. Here, surely, was just the chance to give away much of our “timeless” stock as encouragement for others to take pleasure in the printed word, and thus to indirectly help our beleaguered libraries.
I put half a dozen copies of “Harbours, Girls and a Slumbering World” in my bag before I walked a short distance down our road to buy the morning newspaper, and came back with the bag empty.
“It’s give-away-a-book-week,” I said in accosting anyone who might be conversant with our language.
All were most grateful and delighted with the book, and the idea behind it.
And that was only the start.
There were only a few refusals by people naturally suspicious of being offered something for nothing, and one or two who had too many books already and just wanted to chat.
But generally speaking, most were extremely happy and considered themselves to be very lucky.
I was sometimes asked if I was the author, and even asked to sign a few copies.
And for Margreet and I the whole process was a delight, especially to see people suddenly change from their workaday demeanour to a smiling one on accepting our gift.
Now we have more room in the house – and a somewhat glowing feeling inside.