Maybe it's just me, but whenever I find myself with an hour to kill in town, I always, always head straight to Waterstone's. I tell myself I'm just "going for a browse", but deep down, in the part of my heart that contains a tiny library, I know that's so much bullshit. I'm going to buy books. Never "a book"; always "some books".
You see, I've come to believe that it's my duty as a writer. If I leave a book shop without buying anything - or, more precisely, any things - I feel guilty. I have to pick up at least a couple of paperbacks before moving on.
On Friday evening I found myself with a spare hour or so after an appoitment in Leeds. I was due to meet my wife outside her work at 5:20, and it was 4:15. So I walked up to Waterstone's, just off the headrow. Just for a little browse. To kill some time. I spent around £35 - if I spent that kind of money on anything other than books I'd feel a bit bad, like a pendthrift, but spending it on books makes me feel good.
I bought the following:
Offspring by Jack Ketchum
Tokyo Year Zero by David Peace
Young Adam by Alexander Trocchi
Edgelands by Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley
The latter of these titles I picked up on my way out the door. I saw the cover on a shelf, picked it up and read the blurb, and thought "That's exactly my kind of thing." There went another £12.99.
I left that shopping feeling happy. I sat in the sun outside my wife's office and read the first couple of chapters of Edgelands. And you know what? It's exactly my kind of thing.
Duty done. Books added to collection. Life improved by a fraction. Everybody's happy.