Hertfordshire this morning lay besieged and helpless, like a county-shaped trembling animal, under the indomitable and relentless grip of winter. Until it got sunny a bit later. This meant a slow start to trade in The Bookshop, Welwyn Garden City, (whose annual 'guess what we sell' competition attracts many correct entries). During this temporary lull in retail hostilities, I wandered over to the Poetry section and was admiring, if not drooling over slightly, its tightly-packed shelves and strict alphabetical organisation, when I was suddenly possessed by the spirit of John Keats. This is an occupational hazard in bookshop work, which is why you should never spend too long in True Crime without having an exorcist on standby in the staff room. In no time at all, I had extruded, like verbal ectoplasm, this version of a well-known sonnet.
When I have fears that books may cease to sell
Before, on Christmas Eve, we close the doors,
And that my till will toll its blithesome bell
No more, because the pestilential claws
Of on-line sales and e-books have embraced
The bookshop in a fatal grip at last;
Then I recall each customer who's graced,
With compliments, our service and held fast
To notions of supporting local trade
And browsing and conversing over books;
To viewing what has newly been displayed
And, as a pilgrim, threading through our nooks.
Should all else fail, and gloom persist, in spite,
I place a book on cats in plainer sight.
Be assured, gentle blogee, that shortly after I had resumed my quotidian identity, trade became brisk and merry, and do look out for this poem in the revised collected works.