Opinionated, ill-tempered, overweight, prejudiced, overeducated and jetlagged 4 months of the year...
Reluctant but frequent traveller as international buyer for Elizabeth's Bookshops. Travel, restaurants, yachting, good books and the people you meet when you don't have a gun... Plus Toby Schmitz & Rory Schmitz
May/June Buying Trip, Part 1 :London Heathrow, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia
Just fine-tuning my itinerary for the May / June buying trip. And Rory (Younger Scion of the Elizabeth's Bookshops Family / Empire / Take-away) is coming with me... Hooray!
London Heathrow. Oh bugger! So how else are you supposed to pass the time on 6 hour lay-overs between flights when you are filled to the nostrils with free BA Concorde Lounge french bubbly, have nibbled at every vol au vent, shopped at every Terminal 5 retail outlet and had a drag on a fag deep inside the bowl of the loo in the Executive Club, unsuccessfully chatted up the blonde Mother & Daughter team from Cincinatti and Twittered your location to 173 followers. (It's sad, but Stephen Fry and Paris Hilton never reply.) This ain't the Peter Stuyvesant Glamour Life it used to be when I started this lark.
Pittsburgh: Welcome to Tea. No #2 Son Rory (being 30, 6'3" with tousled long hair and his mother's good looks, a free spirit, a parentally over-indulged ex public school boy, paid-up Artist and Gallery Director from deepest almost-still-communist East Berlin) is, of course, especially entranced by the Tea Party personalities that heavily populate Pittsburgh's finest establishments. (See image) I will have to distract Rorz with Californian Sauvignon Blanc, splendid Beefsteaks and a chocolate icrecream dessert. Other than that, he will be useful by concentrating on buying artbooks by people I have never heard of and graffiti artists you would not want your daughter to marry.
Seriously want to go to a hockey game in Toronto. (That's "ice-hockey" for those of us still playing half-back for the Old Scotch F Grade Veterans 'field hockey' team on slippery grass or artificial turf back home.) Jordan, our Canada rep plays it twice a week. Must ask him for some tickets.
BostonYacht Club Twilight Sailing is almost as good as Royal Perth / Freshie. And the mud-crabs are tastier than the DIY barbecues at our revered royal clubs. One of our suppliers has this boat slightly bigger than the Queen Mary. (Who said there is no money in books?) The reality is warehouses behind barbed wire and security gates in suburbs of Boston that don't actually crack a mention in the Kennedy Tour or Lonely Planet.
A book warehouse in the toughest part of Chicago. The ground floor still has a railway siding reputedly used by Al Capone's mob to unload boot leg liquor back in the Prohibition era. In winter, it is -25 degrees inside the warehouse. And it's really difficult to select book titles while you're wearing ski gloves and goggles... In summer, the sailing is truly serious, with some very grown up boats at the Yacht Club. Our suppliers are very academic, discuss Post-Realism vs Nietzsche over dinner but, apart from being wonderful people, also really know how to eat & drink!
Washington, DCVery hip suppliers of cutting-edge art and academic books. A $2,500 payment we sent them in 1995 went missing for 15 years and they remained patient. They let us bunk down in their graceful townhouse amidst the political elite. (But as someone said about Barack: "He may be President, but he still can't get a cab to stop for him in downtown Manhattan.")
Then by Amtrak to Philly: I've never been to Philadelphia. Not sure that it will actually enrich my life, but I am open-minded. Our suppliers there occupy a warehouse the size of 5 Jumbo 747 hangars and you have to get on a golf cart to browse the shelves.
And then to theUK for Part II of the journey...
Watch this space (if World Cup Cricket is not on the telly)