A Good Day in Morley

1st October 2018

Last Saturday, Angela and I were in the Church of the Nazarene in Morley for the Indie Book Fair, part of the 2018 Morley Arts Festival. It was a good day – well-organised, nice venue, friendly people – and I was delighted to give a short reading from An Ordinary Spectator. A few sales added to the warm glow.

Of the 20 or so tables around the inside of the church, mine was one of 4 or 5 non-fiction displays. To complement the Yorkshire murder mysteries, stories for children and poetry collections, there were offerings on living in Africa, coping with a parent’s dementia and (clearly knowing its immediate audience) the pros and cons of independent publishing. Inspection of the products on show – confirmed by chats with the individual authors – left one in no doubt that all the books represented considerable effort and dedication; they were, by turn, imaginative and well-researched and attractively packaged.

The Church is situated at the top end of a large supermarket car-park and so there was some passing interest from the more inquisitive of the Saturday shoppers as well as the obvious support from those with connections to the authors themselves, many of whom were locally based.

I think it was the eclectic nature of our casual engagements during the day that I enjoyed the most: the middle-aged woman whose father had been a keen supporter of the Batley rugby league club; the eight-year boy who showed us a story he had made up, complete with illustration, involving goalkeepers and zombies; the elderly lady, pushing a shopping trolley, who informed us that her cataract operation had been postponed three times; the polite schoolboy who played at prop forward for one of Morley RUFC’s junior teams; the ex-Army man, whose book related his friend’s family stoically coping with their daughter’s Rett Syndrome… We learned some things during the day and we were the better for it.

One man – about my age – spent some time examining copies of An Ordinary Spectator and Still An Ordinary Spectator. He read the back cover blurbs closely and studied the contents pages and glanced at some of the text. He checked the price list I had on display, which included the discount for a double purchase. He then replaced both books and nodded politely and set off on a tour around the Church to look at the other wares. Some time later, on completing his circuit, he returned to my table, smiled gently and duly bought both books. As I signed them for him, I must have given a knowing smile myself; his cautious approach to considering and reflecting on and then completing the purchase was exactly as I would have done.

It was just before 4 o’clock that we dismantled the table and banner and, carrying lighter boxes than when we arrived, made our way back across the car-park. As we did so, I heard the brief – but discernible – roar of a crowd. It turned out that Scatcherd Lane – the home ground of Morley RUFC – was only a couple of streets away and that there was a match in progress.

I looked up the details later. Morley now play in the Northern Division’s North 1 East League: the sixth tier in the hierarchy of English club rugby. On Saturday, they defeated Driffield by 39 points to 7. The young prop forward would have been pleased.

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