Ah, the heady days of April ’12 when Simon S and I decided it was high time we set ourselves up a little literary group in Manchester…seems so long ago! A brand new venture for me having never ever (believe it or not) been a member of a book group before, let alone run one. Although we’ve since lost our lovely co-host to neighbouring Liverpool and others to new jobs/cities, etc, the group has gone from strength to strength, gently growing in size (though I’m careful not to let it get too rowdy) and now with a friendly, mixed group of regulars with a wide taste in books and wide-ranging opinions and experiences to go along with it.
I’d like to think the benefits run both ways. I meet like-minded people who won’t glaze over when I launch into the merits of [insert name of author here]’s work and will accompany me on all manner of wild literary escapes (including the Northern Classics Literary Coach Tour this October) across the city and in turn I look out for them at our monthly meetings. Or try to. Lately I have been absolutely bowled-over and deeply disappointed with the attitude of businesses across the city who seem completely unenthused and, in the case of our previous meeting-place, frankly inconvenienced at hosting a group of lovely, untroublesome bibilophiles who meet to chat quietly and, frankly, spend a whole lot of money of food and drink!
The unnamed city-centre bar that we had made our home for the past year and a half began to turn more and more unfriendly and unaccommodating until a particularly rude waitress trying to steal our tables spelled the beginning of the end. Since taking the brave move to leave I have found that locations around the city simply don’t seem to want the business on what is still, in most places, a very quiet Tuesday night. My emails and calls remain unreturned, any thought of committing to a monthly reservation balked at. What’s wrong with you people!? Don’t you fancy a few decent bookish types descending on a drizzly Manchester weeknight to drink all of your beer?!
Phew. Rant over. Now I have this dilemma off my chest I am happy to announce that I have found a willing and enthusiastic venue that I’m hoping will be everything the group hope for and deserve and more. Roll on Tuesday evening because I hear they have ping-pong tables as well! Woo hoo!
Are any of you members of a book group? Which venues prove the best and are you ever met by difficulties finding that perfect place to settle down and chat books? Alternatively, are you the owner/manager of a Manchester watering hole that is book friendly? Let me know!