Pleasant little outing last weekend to the PBFA Bookfair at the Hilton London Olympia. A nicely themed fair, forty or so dealers, but all (or nearly all) concentrating for the day on children’s books, illustrated books and modern firsts. Everything visually attractive and interesting – and a lovely, friendly, welcome from Deborah Davis (McHardy Rare Books), current chairman of the PBFA.
What a hard-working and peripatetic bunch we are: here’s Steve Liddle up from Bristol and Anthony Smithson (Keel Row Bookshop) all the way down from North Shields, both last seen only a couple of weeks ago up in Edinburgh. Peter Harrington, represented today by Kevin Finch, haven’t come quite so far, but they too were there in Edinburgh. Lots of other friends and acquaintances too, some old some new – David Miles from Canterbury, James Pickard from Leicester, the Foster brothers from Chiswick (Paul Foster, Stephen Foster), Simon Patterson (Hyraxia Books) from Leeds.
The names are enough to tell you what a high standard of stock was on display. Difficult to know where to start, but I was pleased to get the cheque-book out for three nice and bright pre-war P. Wodehouse titles from Stephen Dick (Holybourne Rare Books) from Alton. Mightily tempted elsewhere by all kinds of things, but ever judicious, ever cautious, ever mindful of my bank’s curious, unhelpful and frankly philistine attitude towards its money being spent on such lovely things, I resisted as best I could. Couldn’t however resist this beautiful Austin Freeman classic from James Hallgate (Lucius Books) of York – this is just how sparkling we want our pre-war crime fiction to look, although it rarely does.
Neither could I resist a truly bizarre book from Giles Lyon (World’s End Bookshop) – an anthropomorphic anthology (or ant-hology as it describes itself) on the subject of the antics of ants. Absolutely barking.
Pleased to meet to some new people too. Still positively drooling over a signed and dust-jacketed copy of Nancy Mitford’s Christmas Pudding from John Atkinson of Darlington. All in all, a very pleasant afternoon.