Occasionally life throws up disappointments. Some huge, some small. Sometimes the smallest of disappointments can be the most frustrating, especially if decisions are made “on instinct” with no real basis or foundation. Today Foyles “England's legendary bookseller” in Stratford decided “on instinct” not to have a book signing with Ian Ayris. It’s doubtful that they will stock the book. True, this is entirely their decision and their right. What disappoints is this decision was made from the store in Charing Cross, a million miles from Ian’s heartland and the hub of Ian’s excellent debut novel, Abide with Me, which is set in London’s East End. Stratford is the perfect place for a book signing where the demography is right, the support is right and the media would be a friendly ally. The decision today shows that Foyles are not interested in the real people of Stratford and the surrounding area. If they really want to know about the area I urge them to read Abide with Me. It may do more for their sales than they know.
Maybe Foyles are only interested in the new money in the area. Maybe they are only interested in the Olympics and what it can do for the area. Much like all successive governments.
I dare say even the present incumbents in power would be happy to sweep away the past, the history. Hence the Marathon route will avoid exposing how the shameful neglect of the area is still written large in towns like Aldgate, Bow, Stratford, Forest Gate, East Ham, Manor Park, Poplar, Limehouse, Hackney, Stoke Newington.
My ‘gut instinct’ is that the real people in these areas will continue to be the forgotten people. People who rarely are given the break they need. Foyles will need to be in the East End a few more decades to gain a real understanding of the area, so today’s decision from Charing Cross can maybe be understood.
It would have been great to have a signing in Stratford. For Ian, yes and for me as the publisher of Ian’s book. I was born in Forest Gate, schooled and lived in Stratford. Ian and I understand what it takes to make people notice you.
So thank you Foyles for your understanding and your instinct.