Great Aunt Phoenix

To begin with, apologies for the sporadic posting. I have been busy as a busy bee, while still struggling a little with my leg, which means things just don’t get done as quickly as I’d like… basically it’s all been a bit of an irritation. Still, I’m back up and – well, maybe not running, but certainly hobbling now, and promise more regular contributions once again.

Over the weekend I started my new job at Waterstones. It was like falling off a bike – the till system has changed (can you believe last time I worked retail we were still having to swipe everyone’s debit card – chip and pin wasn’t even an upcoming attraction!) but it took all of an hour to get to grips with the basics, and the fiddly bits I’m picking up as I go along. Meanwhile Phoenix, Waterstone’s search and ordering service, hasn’t changed a bit. It’s still pernickity and temperamental, refuses to bring up search results unless you get the spelling, punctuation and spacing EXACTLY right, and looks like the old DR DOS loading screen we had on our very first PC. It reminded me of a crotchetty elderly aunt you only see once in a white Christmas, but can’t quite remember why  – a couple of hours reacquainting yourself with their peculiarities and it all comes flooding back!

Despite Aunty Phoenix, I had a thoroughly enjoyable day, and when 4pm rolled around I was almost disappointed to have to leave. Bookselling is so very different from any other high street retail work. For one thing, you serve a huge variety of customers, some of whom are real characters. Every book you find for someone is a new discovery for you – you’re learning all the time, sometimes about topics you wouldn’t have thought to explore in your wildest dreams. Booksellers are expected to be knowledgeable, and as such the customer not only wants to utilise your perceieved expertise, but also respects you for it. Of course you get rude customers – rudeness permeates every public-facing role – but the majority are grateful that you’ve tried to help.

Just in case you haven’t gathered as much from the above, it’s a job I really enjoy. I loved working in Waterstones Grey Street back in 2003, and it seems likely I’m going to love it again down here right now. If I could afford the pay cut I’d drop everything and become a full-time bookseller tomorrow!

Ok, that’s quite enough about the weekend. I’ll save Sunday’s adventures to share tomorrow!


No outfit shots today as I got up early to a) make tea by boiling a sauce pan of water because my kettle has given up the ghost and b) clean – change the bed, hoover, clean the kitchen and bathroom in time for Elena arriving straight from work. (Elena is actually coming tomorrow night now, due to unforeseen circumstances.)

I say I got up early, but it seems it wasn’t early enough as I was still running late for work… hence no pics. Ho hum – I’m wearing my ballerina skirt and grey tights/sweater combo, if that helps. And for the sake of piccies, two new creations (yup, more Toesles… oh heck – probably ought to stop soon…), Zion the Zebra and Gabby Cat:

Zion Duo



2 thoughts on “Great Aunt Phoenix

  1. God, I miss book selling so much … and the stacking in pyramids, and Mr Ford, the scary guy!

    You are so right about it being so completely different to any other kind of retail. I still remember a woman who came in for a book on her lunchbreak and we got to chatting about new authors, books she liked and didn’t and so on and without any sales patter at all, found herself walking out with 12 new books and was so excited to be discovering all these new authors, she could hardly get her words out. I really miss that!

    PS – Bad luck with the kettle, although could be a prime opportunity for a singing kettle. I hear they’re going quite cheaply on ebay 😉

    • Ahh, the pyramids – I’d forgotten how challenging they could be until Saturday… the 3 for 2 paperback fiction are at least roughly the same size, but the gift tables with everything from A4 hardbacks via folio size autobiographies to mini-books are a little trickier to get to grips with. They remind me of spacial awareness maths problems!

      See, you say without sales patter, but enthusiasm is the most effective form of sales patter there is. My ability to witter on at Waterstones customers comes from the fact that a) I feel I have something in common with them (books!) and b) I’m confident and passionate about what I’m selling. Back in the day I left a better paid job at Hobbs for the Waterstones gig, because Hobbs was all about greeting customers and upselling. Approaching a woman who was looking at a skirt and saying “Lovely colour isn’t it, and it matches this top and that top oh – and those boots perfectly! *cheesy grin*” felt cringeworthy to me. Approaching the woman I heard muttering to her husband about the booker winner and suggesting she might like to try the Sarah Waters runner up or The Children’s Book by A S Byatt felt entirely natural.

      I’ve splashed out on a new blue kettle to match my kitchen – ordered it with some of my nectar points, so eagerly awaiting its arrival! If I had gas I’d consider a hob kettle, but on electric it’s such a faff… 😀

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