Are you all ready for the Bank Holiday-Diamond Jubilee bonanza weekend? At W&T we've decided to create two display bays for the weekend. Brush up on British pride. Not a Royalist? For couch potatoes that won't brave the hordes, some armchair travels awaits :)
Whoa! What a night! It was like Fame and Happy Feet had descended upon the wooden floor boards of Woolfson & Tay. Avalon Rathgeb and Nada Karsakov of Shim Sham Tap Jam and fellow hoofers celebrated International Tap Day with a nod to Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson, with some short film clips followed by some amazing performances - including a musical tribute to Bermondsey - and downright sweaty jam sessions, with a Shim Sham finale. It was awesome :) Inspired to take classes? Check out Shim Sham Tap Jam here: http://shimshamtapjam.co.uk/ and keep the rhythm alive!
Everybody gets a go - from the beginners group to an open-to-all session; even those without tap shoes got on to the floor to strut their stuff.
Juggling while tap dancing and keeping in time with the beat? Sure!
Nada's 'Cabaret' routine started out all innocent like but ended up all saucy... with some stripping thrown in - and without missing a beat!
Everyone on the dancefl... er, bookshop floor, for a Shim Sham finale!
Well, I don't imagine many booksellers start their day in the kitchen LOL!
At W&T, we offer lunches during the week, but only one dish a day as we don't have a fully-kitted out kitchen. Why, you ask, would you sell curry in a bookshop? Well, it's a long story and I won't bore you with the details, but somewhere along the way, we decided we had to deviate from our initial plans of just serving coffees, teas and cakes in our cafe. We needed something more so that we could have a bit more footfall in the middle of the day. And thus, our idea for 'Lunch In A Bowl' was launched. Seeing that the only thing I can cook really is Asian/Oriental stuff owing to my Malaysian Chinese roots, we decided we'd go Asian/Oriental. Something tasty, filling, good value, and most importantly, was a complete meal even if we could only serve a dish a day.
Well, it's been almost a year and a half now and we've served curries, noodles, fried rice, beef and ginger stir-fry to sweet sour pork. I have to say that Malaysian Chicken Curry is the most popular, so I thought I'd share with you my recent foray in the kitchen... (And since I'm not a professional cook, I'm not going to pretend that this is a step-by-step recipe either LOL!)
The main ingredients (apart from the chicken and potatoes that is) are
- Curry powder
- Onions and garlic (blitzed in a blender)
- Cinnamon sticks
- Fennel seeds
- Cumin seeds
- Star anise
Heat vegetable oil and fry all these together until fragrant...
Add chicken pieces and potatoes (cut into bite-sized chunks) and fry, making sure the chicken is evenly coated with the spices and curry... (Now normally, if I was making this for an Asian crowd, it would be chicken pieces with bones intact, but here I've deboned the chicken pieces and removed the skin)
Add coconut milk and salt to taste. Simmer.
Tada, and there you have it, Malaysian Chicken Curry with potatoes. Available at W&T on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So there you go, a glimpse into how this bookseller starts her day - in the kitchen :)
Thank you to all our lovely regulars who drop by for lunch. Bon appetit or as a fellow Malaysian would say, "Jom makan!" (Let's eat!)
Is the end nigh for small indie booksellers? Skeptics will probably say that the writing has been on the wall for some time already. Pacts such as Waterstones and Amazon will certainly hasten this trend. The message I am getting is certainly Borg-ian (a la Star Trek) - "Resistance is futile."
Waterstones' move suggests to me that booksellers must assimilate or die; better a small piece of e-readers and e-book sales by getting in bed with behemoths like Amazon or wither away through a slow, painful (read: debt-ridden) death. Small booksellers without the muscle or volume to negotiate with e-merchants such as Amazon have other alternatives certainly (and I won't name names), but the returns are so pitiful, it's like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Soldier on we must, but booksellers who are pragmatic and less idealistic, I imagine, will no doubt be gazing into their murky crystal balls and, unlike the coalition government, be mulling over Plan B.
Read article about Waterstones and Amazon deal here:
Jane Colling's original screenprints series A to Z - An Alphabet is up at W&T until 27 May 2012. Last night, a public event was held to launch the event with poet Sarah Reilly and musician/artist Peter Blegvad performing a recitation of Alphabet. It's no secret that Blegvad's Leviathan has always amused, bemused and boggled me, so it was a special treat to get a signed copy!
Bone weary... what a week the past one has been (not least because Shivaun and I hosted a staged reading of her fabulous screenplay Pop) and looks like the next few are going to be just as hectic - we've got quite a few events lined up as you can see for the month of May into June. Just got back from an evening event at Canada Water Library with author/poet Andrew Motion that ended about 9pm. (Plus we had to lug boxes of unsold copies back to the shop on the way home.) Next week, apart from events at our shop, there's also another event at Canada Water Library with Mark Thomas (Extreme Rambling: Walking Israel's Separation Barrier... For Fun).
So what, you may ask, am I doing writing a blog entry at midnight? Frankly, I find that's the best time to do things like check emails, send out our regular e-newsletter, update the website, do artwork for posters, yadda yadda yadda; i.e. all the kind of stuff one needs to do sitting in front of the 'puter that I didn't manage to get round to during the day.
So anyhoo... apart from dealing with our website, multiple email accounts (my own as well as the general inbox), MailChimp, PayPal, Facebook, Twitter etc, the team have suggested we give Tumblr a go. (My attempts at Pinterest I must say has been pretty abyssmal to date, so I was a bit hesitant at first.) I'm no techie and I must say that bookselling requires a lot of communication - not just the face-to-face kind, but also the online variety. The team have been great and have kickstarted our Tumblr blog. Should be fun - for the more spontaneous types of updates that include photos, quotes, anecdotes, that sort of thing. Now, if I can get it all to sync with Facebook etc, that would be marvellous.
And who thought bookselling was just about selling books? LOL. If you've got any ideas on what you'd like to see on our Tumblr pages - let us know - we're all ears :)