By about lunchtime last Thursday, I was beginning to realise that not much had really changed. The first day of the cricket season had been punctuated by rain delays, and England had then staggered to 87-5, having won the toss and chosen both to bat and also to leave our arguably most effective bowler in such conditions out of the starting eleven. Discussions can always be had as to whether individual batsmen play better off their front or back foot, but when decision making is concerned, the long history of English cricket tends to devolve to the question of whether to put the bullet in the right or left foot.
On the other hand, the fact that I was following the Test Match on a mid-week day off from the shop was a reminder that not everything was as before. We’ve now been open for two weeks, but only for eight actual days’ trading. It still seems like a sort of holiday (bookselling: more of a vacation than a vocation). We’re not alone in this; a quick stroll up and down South Street showed that most of our fellow independent businesses have chosen to limit their opening hours, settling for the most part on an entirely civilised 5 hours or so of opening per day with many, like ourselves, not reopening for the full 6 days a week of
retail hell customer-facing fun.
It’s certainly doing wonders for the work/life balance, if not yet the business account balance. How long this brave new world will last is anyone’s guess, but some things are inevitable. As surely as night follows day, the West Indies wrought a fine victory in the opening Test, and the very first person through the shop door on reopening day asked “are you buying books at the moment?”