Chocolate biscuits and Australians

Lee on the Solent. For those of you wondering where this is, it is a small seaside village on the south coast of England between Portsmouth and Southampton, with a couple of other towns in between like Gosport to the east and Hill Head and Warsash to the west, though the latter two aren't strictly towns but more villages. Anyway, that's where I was for a couple of hours this morning plying my wares. A bright sunny day but with a chill edge to the wind, and it took a while for Lee to wake up. Rick, the bookshop owner, a lovely man, and his partner, Martin, supplied the choccy biscuits and coffee and put me behind a small table in the window. It's okay, there was a great big window display to hide me from public gaze and curiosity.

It got off to a slow start and I was beginning to get despondent when my first fan of the day, a tall gentleman in his sixties, hurried in to buy In For The Kill. I remembered him from my book signing last year. He and his wife had read my first two marine mysteries and 'loved them.' In fact, he said, his wife, a keen Robert Goddard fan ( like myself) said that my books were every bit as good as Robert Goddard! Praise indeed. It warmed the cockles of my heart and those kind words will keep me glowing all through my despairing days.

Also met the village eccentric, a very nice, rather elegant lady whose conversation ran in chunks of stories without actually finishing or going anywhere, rather like those road diversion signs that take you to the back of beyond and so far off your beaten track that you forget where you were heading to begin with, and indeed where you had come from, and instead of ending up in Newport Pagnell you find yourself in Milton Keynes...

Then there was the delightful couple from Australia. Well he was from Australia and his wife (or partner) was from New Zealand. Oh, what a breath of fresh air they were. Great Britain public relations should sign them up now. They had made England their home. They had both got teaching jobs in the area, and they were never going back to Oz and NZ. They absolutely loved the area and England, they even loved the traffic jams, which they had to admit were a bit of a novelty for them. They adored the Solent, the British people, the buzz and the history. They felt alive in this country, God bless them - AND they bought my book. When I hear of so many of my friends leaving GB to live in NZ and extolling the merits of that country I feel like the poor relation who has been forced to stay put because of age and lack of money. Now I feel rather proud to live in a vibrant country.

Sales not bad: ten in total and the bookshop took another fourteen to sell after the signing. Like I said, it's hard slow work, but worth it? Of course.

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