I blame Tatum O’Neal. At least I think that’s who put the silly notion about chandeliers into my head. (Paper Moon?) If you have one, you are rich. I have one,* so obviously… What’s worse, it hangs right inside my front door, informing every caller about my wealth. I very nearly put it in the kitchen, for that very reason, but decided that someone who doesn’t dust, will not be wanting to wipe kitchen grime off her ‘crystal’ either.
This appearance of being well-off came up in a facebook discussion the other day, about the young men who sell overpriced dusters at the door. No sales here, because I don’t dust. Especially not if I’ve been ripped off first. But the house isn’t all that small, it’s in a good neighbourhood, and there is a car on the drive. I can’t claim to be poor, or expect to be believed should I try.
And in comparison with most of the world, we are very well off. I have no complaints in that department at all.
Anyway, the reason I’m going on about wealth is the recent stuff in the news about working for free. Or not doing it.
Me, I pay to work. Sorry, to blog. Mostly it’s free, but to bring you those witty blog posts about events I need to go to them. The least it will cost is my fare to the venue. If I’m lucky I get in for free. If not, I have to decide quite how keen I am, factoring in ticket price and anything else.
Getting in for free is becoming rarer. I don’t want to point the finger at anyone, but will say that the Manchester Children’s Book Festival have treated me extremely generously. I understand that festivals need to make money. But what I don’t get is why some organisers offer comp tickets despite an event selling out, but not for others that are only half full.
There’s a lot I don’t understand.
Then there are the presentations and the literary parties, which for someone working and/or living inside the M25 will not require too much agonising over whether to attend or not. I have needs. I’d like the event to start after 3pm and finish by 9pm (depending a little on exactly where it is). What’s more, I’d like to be told about it more than a month in advance, preferably longer still. That way I can make the trip to London for £25. Plus whatever comes off my Oystercard. (You’d think oysters…)
I genuinely don’t need to buy books. I have enough books to last me years. But as I mentioned the other day, sometimes books don’t turn up, and I might be desperate for a particular one, in which case I do my best to avoid that online bookseller, but occasionally it can’t be helped.
As some of you are aware, I won’t shop with my local independent. Even if things were not as they are, on our very modest household income it would be hard to justify a full price book purchase.
I really appreciate all the books I receive. That’s a real luxury. But you can’t eat books. You could possibly heat your house with them, but that would be taking madness too far.
People often ask why I started Bookwitch. What you should ask is why I haven’t stopped. I’ll tell you. It’s because it’s fun. Time consuming, but fun. A little costlier than I feel comfortable with. But fun.
I could go to events all the time. Often I say I can’t because I’m unavailable. But mostly it is because the money will only stretch so far. In my dreams, this is always when I suggest that a contribution would be lovely. And every single time I have this thought, it is swiftly followed by another one: ‘No. Because if I take someone’s money, it will seem as if I’ve been bought.’
For as long as I can, I will continue to pay for this fun. You – blog readers and authors and publishing types and festival people – make this worthwhile. (The Kleenex are over there, on the left. No! Not the box of chocolates!)
And when we next meet for a drink, the … uhm … tap water will be on me!
*Inherited 1940s ‘folk’ chandelier. Not fancy. Simply something that reminds me of its former owners.