Thankfully, we're nearly done now – just the journey home to address, which, true to form, involved not only a few bookshops but a book fair too: the Long Melford Book Fair, which just so happened to be taking place on the day we were travelling, sort of en route, in, you guessed it, the Suffolk village of Long Melford. We spent a jolly hour there:
and even had lunch there (local sausage, chips and beans for me, jacket potato for Rachel, milk for Edie), and both Edie and I came away with a book:
In her case Enid Blyton's second Noddy outing, Hurrah for Little Noddy, and in my case, plucked from a cardboard box of books priced at a pound a go, this:
A first edition of The Airline Pirates by John Gardner, published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1970, dust jacket design by Peter Cope. Gardner is best-known for his James Bond novels, but he wrote lots of other books besides, including an eight-book series starring reluctant British Intelligence assassin Boysie Oakes, of which The Airline Pirates is the seventh instalment. I took a look at the first instalment, The Liquidator (1964), back in 2010, and in the interim have come into possession of a few other first editions:
most of which I picked up in one fell swoop in the Pantiles Bookshop in Tunbridge Wells during a visit there a year or two ago. Which means I only have two books in the series left to collect – but all of them still to read. (A recurring problem chez Jones.)
From Long Melford we made our way to our final stop, the nearby village of Clare, where I'd read there was not only a good secondhand bookshop but an antiques centre with an excellent books section too. The bookshop, Harris & Harris, turned out to be a very nice one:
with a mixture of new and secondhand books, including a great children's section and a good holding of first editions and crime fiction, but although I spied a run of Anthony Price firsts, in the end there was nothing for me. So we headed down to Clare Antiques & Interiors, a huge place spread across four floors, the books section on the second floor being quite something, especially for those with an interest in real-life espionage:
That's just an indication of the extent of the espionage stock, which fills an entire room within the books department. Sadly I didn't have enough time to explore it properly before we had to be on our way, although to be frank I wouldn't have known where to start anyway, there's so much there. (If Jeremy Duns ever visited the place, I doubt we'd see him again.) In the end I contented myself with a browse through the modern firsts and a dig in a pile of books under a staircase, which netted me one last first edition – an early-'60s entry in one of the most celebrated PI series of all time...