It’s officially the hottest May Bank Holiday for forty years. The weather has really brought folk out in Clapham, south London. At ten in the morning on Saturday the Old Town pavement cafés were already full and local shops saw queues of people buying food and drink for picnics and barbecues. By one o’clock the Common, or at least that part of it near to the Old Town, was becoming crowded.
I know this because I, with fellow Clapham Book Fest volunteers, was out pounding the pavements and pressing the flesh, handing out the Book Festival Programmes and, very appropriately on such a sunny day, copies of the Clapham Literary Trail leaflet. The latter proved especially popular as people saw it as a good thing to do when they were out on the Common in the sun. As a friend and I sat outside Clapham Picture House having some well-earned refreshment and speaking with a couple at the next table about the Festival and the Trail, one gentleman asked us where we had got the leaflet from. ‘Out of my bag,’ I replied and produced one for him. A conversation about Graham Greene followed.
There was plenty of interest in the Programme too. Lots of people stopped to talk about the Festival saying that they had heard about it (good) and wanted to know more (even better). There were also plenty of firm commitments to coming along (best of all, but let’s see). Ticket sales have stalled a bit, compared to last year, as Omnibus has been closed for refurbishment this week, though the phones have been in operation and tickets are available on-line. Apologies to those who have tried to buy tickets and found the Box Office shut. Anecdote suggests that people don’t find using the online ticketing easy, especially when buying tickets for multiple events, so we await a surge of ticket buying now the Theatre Box Office is open again. We’ll be watching very closely this week to see how sales go. With less than a week before the event, we’re getting to the crunch time.
Indeed by ten o’clock next Saturday night this year’s Clapham Book Festival will be over. I hope, by then, even more folk than last year will have come to talk about books and writing, to the Library and the Theatre and that some of them, at least, will have enjoyed our end of Festival Meet & Greet with local authors. Located, most appropriately, in The Greene Room, there will be a bar, food and live music from The Jags ( Jago Poynter, guitar and vocals, Rick Holland, percussion ) from 8 o’clock onwards. We’ll be announcing the winner of the Clapham Summer Fete Prize Draw (the prize was books from the Festival and Clapham Writers) later this week and handing over the prize during that session.
In the meanwhile we’ll be distributing even more leaflets, not least to folk revelling in the sunshine on the Common today and our social media campaign will continue. Our Books Director has taken possession of all the books which will be on sale during the Festival (cash and card) and our check-list regarding logistics has been written – getting up to 600 people in and out of a small theatre across one day is a precision task, and then one has to factor in the Library and the movement of people between the two venues. But it’s all organised.
I can’t wait for Clapham Book festival to begin!