I have just seen two copies of my new book in Heffers. I took a photo and sent it to my nearest and dearest who came back with party popper emojis. Because, whether or not they realise the significance, this is a big thing for me. I fell in love with Heffers when I was eighteen and visiting a friend in Cambridge. It seemed to me to be the epitome of intellectual cool with its ultra-modern 1970s facade and interior, all straight, clean lines, concrete, wood and metal, and sunken middle section. I probably bought a Russian novel in a black Penguin Classic edition, and wished I could shop/lurk there every week in the hope that some of the sheer volume of ideas and thinking on those shelves would somehow permeate my being and make me a Cambridge student by association.
These days, the fabulous open-plan design is somewhat obscured by all the things that booksellers now sell in addition to books, and it doesn't feel as sleek and Scandinavian as it used to. But it is still brilliant for books, the staff are great, and they do really good events. I am fortunate that it is now one of two superb local bookshops (the other is Waterstones), yet every time I go in, I recall the A level student I once was and it makes me think about the significant relationships we have with bookshops. Along with the now-defunct Sherratt & Hughes in St Ann's Square in Manchester which I haunted when I was at school, Heffers was the most formative, influential bookshop experience I had when young.
And now my book is in there. Dozens of party poppers definitely required.
[The photo is the one on the cover of my book. It is by JE Nuttgens (1892-1982) who lived near and was influenced by Eric Gill. Sections of his windows often look like Gill's bas-reliefs, as below, but with colour.]