Like the unfurling of a bloom, petals turning to face the sun, the Town comes back to life – the busy’ness of commerce returns to these streets and lanes, the market on Friday, fully re-inflated, bounces through the day with gusto, smiling eyes and longed for conversations, the chatter in the book shop, the giggles from the children, the sights and sounds of people being together again – this is what makes Towns special, they’re not just places to buy, they’re places to be – and it’s so good to be back. Click on the image of Sheep Street below for a little film from fellow Bicestrian, Eddy Gong, it is a little piece of joy – putting the boost back into Booster!
Another fellow ‘Boostrian’, the poet Mac McFadden is moving on to pastures new in the coming weeks and so it only seems appropriate that we should say ‘cheerio’, send Mac & Jan on their way with our best wishes and share Mac’s poem about the the street in the picture above.
The Black Sheep by Mac McFadden (c) 2016
You will never see them frolic, you’ll never hear them bleat.
They are quietly unassuming in the busy Bicester street.
In the darkness of the night, and in the humdrum of the day,
They never leave their posts – in fog and wind and rain, they stay.
They breathe the smoke outside the Saxon, hear the music from the Bell.
They learn the gossip outside ARGOS from the tales the locals tell.
They hear the Friday Market banter, watch the shoppers come and go…
As they spill from Sainsbury’s car park, into Coles and M & Co.
Stretching from the Church, down to the traffic-coated Square…
They guard the Charity Shops, the pop-up shops, the shops no longer there.
They never sleep, the Black Sheep, you never see them graze…
They only show their faces, as if wary of our gaze.
As you near the Market Square five other sheep loom into sight,
They are larger than the others and by contrast, they are white.
In the daytime rush and dusk’s hush, they huddle sheepishly,
Outnumbered ten to one – yet they’re the ones the people ‘see’.
Ask the locals where the sheep are and they’ll merrily declare…
‘Just outside the White Hart Pub, before the Market Square’
They go about their business, eyes towards the ground…
As if unaware that 56 black sheep stand all around…
Their faces peering from their posts, reticent and shy,
Unobtrusively observing each unknowing passer-by.
So next time you walk on Sheep Street, briefly tarry for a while…
Look their way, and say ‘Good Day’… perhaps you’ll see them smile.
Our Coles Signed Editions this week are plentiful and joyous – a wonderful and uplifting novel from Mel Giedroyc; a tale of love from Dawn French; we have thrillers from Simon Mayo, Erin Kelly and David Baldacci and pre-orders are being taken for what is bound to be one of the most popular reads this Summer, Falling from TJ Newman; the quirky The Liar’s Dictionary from Eley Williams; Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain is now in paperback; we’re in the garden with Monty Don and in the Kitchen with James Wong; Carlo Rovelli is taking the science lesson with Helgoland; historian Ben Macintyre has sent us some bookplates for the paperback versions of SAS Rogue Heroes and The Spy and the Traitor; younger readers will delight in Steve Small’s The Duck Who Didn’t Like Water; teenage and young adult readers will love more of the strange from Ransom Riggs and Lynette Noni; snooker World Champion Steve Davis surprises with his love of music in the feel-good Medical Grade Music with co-author and musician Kavus Torabi; Philip Schofield bares his soul; Serhii Plokhy shows how close we were to annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis; there are fabulous novels from Santa Montefiore, Ruth Hogan, KJ Maitland and Rosa Rankin-Gee; we have great photography from Peter Schlesinger and Joel Meyerowitz; rugby’s Gareth Thomas shows real strength and we get close to nature with Neil Ansell in The Circling Sky. And finally, we’re now also taking pre-orders for forthcoming Signed Editions from Ed Balls, The Repair Shop’s Jay Blades and AC/DC’s Brian Johnson – what a list of great books for the week when a little bit of normal returned.