Winter at the Bookshop was a raw, warm, cold experience. Raw with chapped fingers clutching kettles of boiling water from the gas-stove, multiple draughts whistling up and down the stairs; warm and sparkling with friendship and tiny coal-fires and everlasting hopeful activity.
St Anns in the early 1960s was a working-class area of Nottingham, at that time an industrial city. It was the subject of the 1970 book, Poverty : The Forgotten Englishmen. Most of the area was subsequently demolished during a period of slum clearance. A few years earlier, St Anns was the site of a “race riot”. The bookshop was the meeting place of a small, international revolutionary group, which was also active in local politics. The author was one of those engaged in the hopeful activity mentioned above: a group of young people with a world to win.
Sylvia Riley, writing as Carole Lake, was the winner of the 1989 Guardian fiction prize for her short story collection, Rosehill: portraits of a Midlands city, and she is the author of Switchboard Operators, short fiction of the 1960s. She lives in Derby.
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