Wednesday 8 October 2014

Girl meets boy

I've already told you about my first love, the place that opened my eyes to the joys of bookshops, now it's time to write about my second.
Galloway's (RIP), close to the seafront in Aberystwyth, west Wales, was the bookshop where I first came to appreciate the full extent of the independent offering and the benefits of getting to know your local bookseller.

And the reason I realised exactly how great booksellers can be is because a girl met a boy.

I wasn't that girl, but she is a good friend. And after they'd hit it off following a very random encounter my friend kindly volunteered to go and buy a book for me from our local indie, where the boy – affectionately known as the Galloway's Guy – could often be spotted manning the till. Obviously the girl's volunteering was entirely selfless and had nothing to do with wanting to see the boy again. Maybe.

I have no idea how the conversation at the till went, or what he thought of her choice of book (I do know she admitted it was for me), but more than ten years later they're still happily married, so I consider it a pretty successful bookshopping trip.

And the book? The flight from the enchanter, by Iris Murdoch.

At the time a very new to me author, I'd fallen in love with her writing and would randomly pop into the bookshop to buy another of her works whenever my first salary would allow. 

However as this was only my second ever bookshop I was still pretty nervous about making conversation with a bookseller, which meant I was very grateful to my friend for happening to start to date one, giving me the confidence to talk to him too. And as their relationship blossomed, there I was (probably being a bit of a pest) quizzing him about books and raving about my new love of Iris Murdoch.

Whether it was to shut me up, win points with the girl or simply because he was a dedicated bookseller I couldn't say, but at some point in our conversation the boy pointed out that instead of waiting for all of Iris' works to flow through the shop I could instead ask the bookshop to order them all and then buy a book at a time whenever my funds would allow. When the manager later confirmed this I was over the moon.

I still remember the first time I walked up to the back of the shop and looked through the hatch where customer orders were kept. There on the shelf was the near complete works of Iris Murdoch (as mentioned, I already owned a few), just waiting for me to buy them when the limited funds of my first ever salary would allow. As a young 20-something I'm sure I shouldn't've been quite so excited as I was, but having previously tried to buy a different – less prolific – author's works only for the publisher to redesign the covers half way through I couldn't help but bounce with delight.

Galloway's sadly closed a few years ago, but the bright, open shop spanning three floors lives on in many memories, the friendly booksellers often cross my path and my Iris Murdoch collection still has pride of place on my shelves.


  1. What a really wonderful story - just shows that shared interests are a good basis for a relationship (especially when they are books!). Such a pity the shop is no longer there.

    On a different subject, can't believe that it it is a year since your last bookshop crawl for BAMB. Hope this year;s is equally successful and really looking forward to reading about it over the coming weeks (so no pressure ...)

    1. Hi Suzanne, thanks, I'm glad someone agrees with me about their story!

      And yes, a year since Books are my bag. I've spent today recovering from my bookshop crawl - come back next week to find out where I've been... (already feeling the pressure!)

  2. Galloway's was my family's business. My father ran it then my brother and just as in many family businesses we've all worked there at one time or another! We have good memories from those times and it's lovely to hear that others also thought it was special (for a variety of reasons). Thank you, you've lifted my day.

    1. Thank you for your comment Cathryn, to hear from a former Gallowayan has made my evening.

      Galloways was a wonderful bookshop and despite moving away from Aber more than ten years ago I reckon a good third of my current book collection is from your family's bookshop.

  3. Hello Erica, I have just found your card on my desk in Oxfam Music and Books in Aberystwyth! Was it you or the Galloway's boy who left it here on Saturday? :)

    Eighteen months ago I saw an advert for a part time manager in the window of this shop and couldn't resist! I'm loving it here, it's full of weird and wonderful books and weird and wonderful people! Hope I'm in next time you or the Galloway's boy calls in!

    1. Hello Cathryn,
      It was me, but I was in town catching up with him and his wife. I'm sorry I missed you, if I'd realised you worked there it would've been good to say hello. You have a great little shop, and one I look forward to sharing with readers soon...


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