I have been selling books for over 20 years with Waterstones. They say I have become an ‘Expert’ in Children’s books. A title that really means very little to me.

What does, I have recently realised, are my customers and more importantly my younger customers, especially those that I influenced enough for them to begin to enjoy books.

It is what they say and do that matters.

The following, in no order what so ever, stand out for me when I look back over the last two decades. This is not in any way a comprehensive list – just some of the highlights that I have so enjoyed over the years.

Thank you.

The author and teacher who introduced me with such pride to his husband.

The bright enthusiastic girl who so loved her reserved books on Vikings, & gave me a cuddle.

The boy who lost his Lego mini-figure and was so overcome when I ‘felt’ the packets and found a new one; wrapping his arms around my neck, his legs, around my waist.

The girl whose father claimed she ‘would never finish anything’, and wouldn’t buy her the kit; who fired her finished Leonardo da Vinci catapult down the store a week or so later.

My regulars who return asking for more books for their children, who seem to have suddenly begun to have the reading bug.

‘My’ Russian customer, his wide grin, and unpronounceable name.

The American who wanted to take home the next unpublished Harry Potter in his suitcase. ‘You have some hidden in the back.’

The mother who came to say she had seen the film, A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness) after reading my post, and was so moved by it.

My Dorset customer, passionate about all things Persian, who bought around a thousand pounds worth of books from me, almost on a monthly basis, who has now become a friend.

The owls I arranged to visit Harrods at the penultimate Harry Potter event.

The queen,

yes the queen,

who bought a copy of the

picture book Tadpole’s Promise for her husband.

The Sussex House event with Linda Davies, and her longbow; celebrating Longbow Girl.

Sgt. from Sussex House, quiet, kindly, wonderful, but with such authority.

Selling almost 1,000 pounds of The Undrowned Child (Michelle Lovric) in Harrods.

The man who bought a copy of The Undrowned Child even though he only wanted a book on accounting.

The man who bought another copy, when he had just come in to buy an English version of the Koran.

The Sussex boy, ‘Hop-a-long’ who came to an event in a shopping trolley.

The small boy who came to say he had broken a plastic stand.

The father who apologised for his ‘feral children’.

The teachers who have become such good friends.

The elderly couple who bought their Christmas books for their family every year in Harrods – the list of their relatives, ages and details neatly inscribed on the cardboard taken from a cereal packet.

The Sussex House boys.

The lady who insisted on double bagging her books, and wanted copies ‘not touched’ by human hands, and has now become a rather extraordinary friend.

The various children who have returned to tell me how much they have enjoyed the last book I sold them.

The Sussex boys from Sussex House and how they have welcomed me into their school.

The boy with autism, who made friends with me.

The customers who ‘followed’ me from Harrods to Finchley Road O2 . Every winter one elderly couple travelling to the store; a very different environment for them. Just because I happened to work there now.

The Sussex events in store, a high light, initially a very reserved author Lynn Reid Banks and her phenomenal rendition of The Green Eye of the Yellow God by Milton Hayes.

The hopeful father who came to buy a book for his child, aged 7, but didn’t know what he was interested in. Only to admit after we had gone through several titles, that the boy was just seven weeks old.

Being taken to see the play Private Peaceful with Sussex House.

The little girl with downs syndrome who suddenly left her carer and came and stroked my arm.

The Sussex House boys’ response to an event with bottles of smells to inhale – a truly raucous event.

Maya Leonard celebrating Beetle Boy with an event in store and her brilliant Ballroom Event with Sussex House.

The man who came and bought all the Biggles books we had in stock – just because I admitted that perhaps they weren’t particularly politically correct and why.

The customers who have asked for a suggestion for one or two books, who have left with a pile tucked under their arms and bags in their hands and grins upon their faces with excited children ‘at foot’.

Lastly, the mother who came to thank me and tell me of her dyslexic son, who after advice from me, started with Barrington Stoke and was introduced to good stories.

Who recently returned home to talk to his mother about the book he was reading.

She was so pleased.

‘…his lower lip was quivering…he could hardly get his words out,’

she said,

‘…he was so involved in the book…’

to find he was reading The Northern Lights (Philip Pullman).

It is the people that have made this job a joy – who have made me grin, laugh and become involved. The books are another joy, but that is perhaps for another time.

This time is to say thank you – I wouldn’t be doing this job if it weren’t for you making that connection.

Thank you.

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