My boyfriend managed to get my laptop going enough for me to take it away, and happily there is an internet connection in my room (along with the tv...I don't remember tvs being provided when I was at "the other place" 4 years ago!), so I can blog LIVE from Cambridge! Unfortunately my laptop won't run my photo software, and the cable is in the other place, but I promise some pictures of the amazing place where I am spending 48 hours next week.
It's been an exhausting day (bear with me, there are some bookish bits!). I felt really uncertain about coming away and made Ken late for work as I couldn't bear to let him go, and then had to dash to the pool to fit in a quick swim. It was very quick! Then back home to tidy up, hide lots of little notes and magazines around the flat and put out those cakes before packing the car and heading off to Cambridge. You can tell that Oxford and Cambridge types are not designed to mix - it is a very long journey, down the M40, round the M25, up the A1... Unfortunately, I then got lost as I came into Cambridge as there was a road closure which my directions didn't take account of. Poor Ken was rung up and asked where I was; eventually I turned the map up the right way and found where I was supposed to be going.
Luckily, although I missed getting given my information pack and badge I was in time for the talks. They've been interesting and provoked quite a lot of discussion (e.g. if a book comes onto the market which several people have claims to, who should the booksellers offer it too). One of the most interesting points is about the way in which the nature of rare books collecting is changing; previously it was extremely important to enable people to have access to the text, now this is often available online and collecting becomes more important about the individual volume - its binding, its owners and provenance and annotations.
One of the speakers showed a slide of a librarian at Cambridge called JEB Mayor, who was around at the beginning of the last century; I know FM Mayor (a VMC writer) lived in Cambridge, I wonder if they were related.
The highlight of the day was definitely the reception at Heffer's bookshop, the main bookshop in Cambridge. It was very similar to Blackwells in Oxford, but had a much better (smaller but cheaper) second hand section. As they were offering us 10% off for the evening (how wonderful it is to be in a bookshop when it is closed and they are offering 10% off) it was difficult to resist and I bought the following 5 books for £9.90:
* 29 Inman Road (Ena Chamberlain) - an autobiographuy of 1920s London "in the classic tradition of Cider with Rosie and Lark Rise"
* Love is Blue (Joan Wyndam) -(I wrote about her earlier VMC auobio on my other blog) and although I've read this, it's nice to have a copy.
* Odd girl out (Elizabeth Jane Howard) - looked like an interesting story.
* The realms of gold (Drabble) - not one I've read and looked interesting.
* Cobwebs and Cream teas (Mackie) - I read thsi years ago and am pleased to finally have my own copy - it's an autobiographical book about a couple who work for the National Trust.
I've come back to my room as I am really exhausted and need to wind down; it is nice having the TV though so I may not read at all (I feel I overdid the reading material, especially since I went shopping).
Grace and Mary ~ Melvyn Bragg
3 hours ago