The Smile Button

Anne Worms, first lady (what is that about?), chauffeur, camera crew, social secretary, factotum, general aribiter of behaviour and good taste, unpaid assistant and wholly unsung heroine, supplies the final post. The actual facts:

  • He’s made me drive well-nigh on a thousand miles in search of fifty or so bookshops, homes and offices – at least half a dozen of which were closed when we got there – and in one spectacular case, very high in the hills, completely non-existent.
  • CobblesMy out-and-out favourite was Cobbles in Dunster – not ABA, not at all ABA, but neat, clean, tidy, airy, and (barring a slight odour of damp dog) well laid out, clearly labelled, full of very reasonably priced books you very well might want to read, no scrabbling around on the floor (or the ceiling, for the matter) to see what the books are, no need to take a torch or a miner’s lamp, no dark nooks, no dusty crannies – just a pleasure to visit.  Even bought some books there for myself (and so did he). Listen up and learn, book-people. Most of us don’t want or understand that crazy-paving, huddle-muddle, eccentric book-look any more. Make it easy or we’ll all buy kindles. 
  • I’ve spent £150 on petrol – at prices ranging from 132.99ppl to 143.99ppl – and no sign yet of being refunded.
  • He’s bought 111 books and 16 prints (rather less than the the number of ABA e-mails received on tour that he’s been moaning incessantly about) – had I known what he had in mind, and the terrain involved, I’d have hired a tank – not a little Skoda!
  • And he’s spent most of the time ignoring me and chatting merrily away to Jane – she’s a robot for God’s sake – but I know a hussy when I meet one and she can go straight back where she came from.

  • And now I’m writing his bloody blog for him! 
  • That said, in fairness, I’ve been mooching in more charity shops than he has bookshops.
  • I’ve met some really very lovely people – including a couple of dozen ABA members.
  • Apologies to those whose photographs I didn’t take  (especially Christopher Saunders, whose water feature and garden deserved a blog on its own) – but I didn’t discover the Smile Button on the camera until Monday in Liskeard. Don’t begin to know what it is, or how it works, but it transformed the outcome. (You should have seen the first picture of Ian Marr).
  • There appears to be virtually no difference between a full English, a full Welsh, a full Cornish or a full Devonian breakfast – except that the Welsh version wholly and utterly inexplicably – not to say highly inappropriately – involves French marmalade. 
  • And credit where credit’s due – all by a country mile or more: Best Breakfast – the Anchor Lights in West Looe. Best Cream Tea – the Two Bridges Hotel on Dartmoor. Best dinner – the Rock Inn, Haytor Vale, also on Dartmoor, just give them the 2011 Rosette now – we’ve told them to clear a space on the wall.          

About Laurence Worms - Ash Rare Books

Laurence Worms has owned and run Ash Rare Books since 1971. He represented the antiquarian book trade on the (British) National Book Committee from 1993 to 2002 and has been six times an elected member of the Council of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association. He was largely responsible for drafting the Association’s Code of Good Practice introduced in 1997, served as Honorary Secretary of the Association from 1998 to 2001 and as President from 2011 to 2013. He is a former member of the Council of the Bibliographical Society and continues to serve on the Council of the London Topographical Society. He writes and lectures on various aspects of the history of the book and map trades, and has lectured at the universities of Cambridge, London, Reading and Sheffield, as well as at the Bibliographical Society, the Royal Geographical Society, the Warburg Institute and at Gresham College. He teaches annually at the London Rare Books School and also organises the monthly Book Collecting Seminars at Senate House, University of London. Published work includes the compilation of fourteen ‘lives’ for the “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography”, a number of articles for “The Oxford Companion to the Book” and the chapter on early English maps and atlases for the fourth volume of “The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain”. A major essay on the same subject also appeared in “The History of Cartography” published by the University of Chicago Press. His long-awaited “British Map Engravers, co-written with Ashley Baynton-Williams, was published to critical acclaim in 2011”. More recently, he contributed the numerous biographical notes to Peter Barber’s hugely successful “London : A History in Maps”, co-published by the British Library and the London Topographical Society in 2012.
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6 Responses to The Smile Button

  1. Angus O'Neill says:

    Laurence, you are a very lucky man. But you, and we, know that. And how many of us go to that many bookshops in a year? Actually, please do answer that – we’d like to know!

  2. ashrarebooks says:

    Angus, all too true. Anne is a marvel. And the very best travelling companion anyone could ever wish for. I’ve rigged up a poll to answer your question. All best.

  3. Gareth James says:

    Just a little bit Welshist?

  4. jessamyworms says:

    Did mum actually write this? It’s hilarious! I fear she may have missed her calling in life! She needs her own blog! x

    • ashrarebooks says:

      Well, you’re right. But three bloggers in the family might be stretching it a bit far. And she is hiding in France rather than facing the rigours of a northern tour. Blog on. xx

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