Anyway, as I also mentioned yesterday, part of the plan while I overcome the initial withdrawal (ssssh, it's a real thing and you know it) was to stay the hell away from key areas of temptation - charity shops, book stalls, bookshops in general - and thus give myself a fighting chance of adjusting to my more restrained mindset before testing it too thoroughly. Aaaah, the best laid plans.
Because what happened ten minutes after we opened? A man wearing a silly hat and a huge sandwich board tripped through the door to tell us that the coffee morning/bric-a-brac sale happening round the corner had just taken delivery of a whole load of books, completely unexpectedly, at that if we wanted we should probably go and take a look.
"Brilliant!" said Mum, "off you go then!"
"Me?!" I spluttered. "But it's day one of my book buying ban!"
"Well, be restrained! If you know you're emptying that bag out at the shop when you get back, you won't be tempted to buy anything for yourself, will you?"
"YES! It's like someone who's just taken a vow to give up his long career as an alcoholic being sent off to a party at the pub! Nobody would say to him, 'aaah, just pop along for a few minutes, you'll be alright!'"
"But it's FOR THE SHOP, Ellie."
"THAT DIDN'T STOP ME THAT TIME AT THE CAR BOOT SALE DID IT! I CAME BACK WITH TWO BAGS FULL OF BOOKS FOR ME AND ABOUT FOUR BOOKS FOR THE SHOP!"
Alas, my protests were in vain and I was duly dispatched to the old town hall to stop in on the coffee morning. I wandered in, trying to look nonchalant, and immediately wanted to turn round and run away, but no. I'd been caught for 30p entry by two old dears at a folding table. It was too late to get away.
Oh dear god. I'd expected, from the noise and bustle and the enthusiastic flyers (Books! Bric-a-Brac! Toiletries! Cakes and goodies! Raffle! Tombola!), to find a room the size of a small parish hall, filled with tables and stalls and maybe a decent corner laid out with chairs and tables for the coffee morning element of proceedings. Plenty of people wandering in and out, mothers and grandmothers, maybe a couple of pushchairs. But ooooooh no.
I'm not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that the room was about the size of our shop (ie. not large), and there can't have been a single person in there under the age of 65. Most of them looked more like they were pushing 80, and the vast majority of them were sitting down drinking tea. As I walked in it was like one of those "everything goes quiet and all eyes turn to the stranger in our midst" moments you see in movies when someone moves to a new place and visits the local pub for the first time.
The raffle was being run by the two ladies at the entrance. The tables and chairs were strewn together in the middle of the room, perfect for their occupants to watch my every move over their tea and scones. The 'toiletries' were a handful of body lotions strewn waaay apart on a big table, like you were expected to throw hoops to win one. A few old pots and a Katherine Jenkins CD made up the bric-a-brac table, the 'cakes and goodies' table consisted of a few cling-filmed loaf cakes and biscuits and a pot or two of marmalade, and the book table was mostly full of Reader's Digest condensed volumes and tatty Len Deighton novels. I didn't go near the tombola.
I did make good and have a decent look through the books on offer, eventually picking up two fairly shabby old volumes just to be nice. I bought a copy of Arthur Rackham's Fairy Book (because the name rang a bell) and a nice hardback copy of The Old Man and the Sea (because we've had a sudden wave of people asking for it recently), and the lady only charged me 50p each instead of £1. So that was nice. I also bought a homemade rock cake each for me and Mum from the food table - mine's under the counter right now, half eaten, and it's bloody delicious. I was out the door within ten minutes of arriving, and flashed my purchases at the ladies on the door in the slightly fevered hope that they wouldn't go all horror movie on me and bar my way. You shouldn't have come here, young one. Buy something from us! Buy! YOU WILL NEVER LEAVE!
The actual point of this post, before I started rambling in a vaguely paranoid 'back away slowly' kind of way, was to report that to my utter delight, I managed to walk away from the book stall without buying anything for myself. I was sorely tempted by a pristine little hardcover copy of Eating for England: The Delights and Eccentricities of the British at Table by Nigel Slater, one of my absolute favourite books. I have it in paperback, but I thought a hardback would be more durable, and for £1 in perfect condition, I wouldn't normally have been able to resist. I picked it up and flicked through it, put it down, picked it up again, put it down... and walked away. I haven't reread my own copy yet. It's in good nick. I don't need a replacement copy, no matter how new it may look, or how cheap it may be, or how easy it would be to justify it by saying I wasn't acquiring a book, I was merely exchanging like for like within the same collection. I WALKED AWAY.
And now I'm sitting here in our empty shop (again), eating a rock cake and feeling very proud of myself for walking into the lion's den (almost literally) so early in the recovery process and walking away unscathed. Nice going, Ellie... :)
P.S. So, as it turns out I must have a pretty good eye for picking the goods from the duds. The Rackham is going into our AbeBooks storefront for a very respectable sum, and even the relatively run-of-the-mill Hemingway novel should fetch a tidy few pounds. A DOUBLE success, yaaaay!