I wrote recently in my blog about our The Bookshop Kirkstallfinancial challenges, if that be the word. These ‘difficulties’ led to a realisation – we were quite poor. In turn that we were going to be unable to travel to far distant lands on a regular basis and do generally exotic (i.e. expensive) things like build a cabin in Colorado. Life was likely to be a whole lot more ordinary in the future. A life of ordinariness was, therefore, going to have to be the basis for my writing. My field, area of expertise you might say. I’m not thrilled, I can see it now. A person asks, what’s your blog about? I reply, Oh, ordinary things. Person – Really? Great. Gosh, is that the time, must be going I’ve got the potatoes to peel and my toe nails to clip. But wait, not so fast, my friend, what did the recently late John Updike say – he said ‘his job as a writer was to give the mundane its beautiful due’. Wow, wished I’d said that. But maybe now I will. All this is to explain why today I’m writing about the first car boot sale of the season, this in spite of the fact that nothing really happened. It’s nice that the car boot season is here again but it’s hardly news. Archie showed us up in the way that number one son used to with his excessive over-activity in public, but that’s quite common. The only other thing that happened was that I bought 3 books for £3. And that, for me, is very ordinary. It’s a compulsion but a very ordinary one. This or similar places are where I buy pretty much all my books these days. I used to buy second hand or pre-owned books from book shops. There was a time when second hand books shops were very ordinary but not any longer. They barely exist these days. I blame car boot sales and, to a lesser extent, charity shops and tight-fisted old gits like me. These days when I do, on those rare occasions, go into a proper second hand book place like when we went to Camden Market on our last visit to that London, I thought long and hard about buying a nice Peter Cheyney ‘thriller’ with a lovely cover for £6. I said to the guy will you take £5? He said, it’s got to be worth £6 of anybody’s money – they talk like that in that London. To my shame I said – not these days, mate, the bottom has dropped out of the market for second hand books which, whilst true, was a shabby thing to say. I felt bad for quite a while, it was only a bloody pound. Anyway I digress, the point is that, whilst in the recent past every town of decent size had at least one second hand bookshop, now they don’t. Leeds, for example, 10 years or so ago had, I’m told, 11 second hand bookshops. Now it has one -The Bookshop Kirkstall (see above). See also following website for a nice review – alexinleeds.com/…/kirkstall-bookshop-it-takes-some-digging-but-there– I still, to my credit, buy books from this shop even though I could in all probability get them cheaper elsewhere and, as a result, have come to know the owner a bit. He told me he makes no money from the shop, only his on-line sales keep him going financially and he only keeps the shop because it gets him out the house. It’s in bookshops like this that I like to stumble across Wisden cricket almanacs, the ones, as I’ve told you before, I collect. I prefer places like this to shops like McKenzies in Surrey which is a specialist cricket bookshop and where you can get pretty much any cricket book you can think of. But what’s the point? This is the proverbial shooting fish in a barrel approach. There’s no thrill to it. Same, to a lesser extent, in shops like Barter Books in Alnwick, excellent in almost every way- fantastic use of an old railway station building – it tends to have a lot of Wisdens so you’re always likely to be able to buy one if you so desire, but, and it’s a big but, it’s not cheap. And for some reason I never seem to have my list of missing Wisdens when I visit. I paid £34 for a 1951 only to find, when I got home, that I already had two ‘51s. So that’s 3. But that’s beside the point of this blog as well. What is the point? you ask, well let me see if I can sum it up. There is a message for the retired person in all this, yes, partly about treasuring those few second hand bookshops that remain, the world will be a poorer place etc. etc. Or maybe the message is that sometimes the ordinary becomes the extra-ordinary. And, in addition, the message maybe something about valuing the ordinary. Taking pleasure in the simple things as Mrs SH would have it. In retirement it’s important to value as much of our lives as we possibly can. In this case that might mean taking a look at areas of our life that we may have taken for granted before retirement, those bits that previously would have been regarded as ordinary – spending a few minutes browsing in some fusty old bookshop – but now can, with a little effort, assume the role of a classic. So, think on, as they say in Yorkshire, retirement is full of possibilities, taking care of, valuing the ordinary, is just one of them. Maybe I wouldn’t have chosen it, but our finances have dictated that it be so. In retirement we have more time for such reflection – so do it.

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