If the shoes fit

Who needs a subject for their next novel?

You probably needn’t look further than Raymond Scott, better known to the North East’s local newspapers as “Banged-up book dealer Raymond Scott.”

Like all the best subjects for novels, he’s a “flamboyant fantasist” posing as an international playboy and a failed criminal.

In a nutshell, here’s what he did: Got hold of a copy of Shakespeare’s first folio (a book so rare there are more hen’s teeth and Sunday months in a blue moon) freshly nicked from my own academic institution Durham University, scribbled on it, made up a story about how he’d found it in Cuba (in Shergar’s jacuzzi beside Lord Lucan’s motor home), and tried to sell it to  some people who are experts on the extant copies of Shakespeare’s first folio.

I’m not sure the attempted sale to people who would definitely know he was a thief was his biggest failing. If you’re offering die-for-the-bard enthusiasts a new copy of a book you have to ingest Grandmothers to get hold of, you might reasonably expect them not to be too picky when it comes to provenance, beyond it’s being definitely the Real Tabasco.

I think the shoes let him down.

No self-respecting bibliophile wears crocodile shoes. Very few Jimmy Nail fans actually go so far as to shroud their feet in the children of teeny terrapins.

Also the shirt. That shirt is so un-bookish it might as well be a Molotov cocktail heaved through Ann Hathaway’s cottage window.

Let’s not mention the sunglasses except to say, they make him look like a blind Rodney Bewes.

Anyway, in the redemptive twist at the end of this saga, blind Rodney Bewes has got a job in the prison library. Where presumably he’s busily reading up on the trade in Jacobean books.

It’s not that uncommon. The one time I was mugged, all they got away with was a bag containing notes I’d been making on early-modren bibliography.

The times they are a changing. Listen out for the shuffle of carpet slippers next time you go down a dark alley.

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~ by David Thorley on November 1, 2010.

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