Simply email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org putting 'Christmas Kisses' as the subject line.
James Arthur Silver, just turned forty, coffee lover and old-fashioned bibliophile was the proud owner of ‘The Silver Coffee Lounge & Book Exchange’ on Angel Street in the North Riding town of Old Thursk. People often asked why he hadn’t simply named his business ‘JAS.’ JAS, the sum total of his initials, had a catchy, snappy and modern sound to it, they said, while often flickering their hands in the style of Al Johnson. James patiently explained why he had chosen to be verbose rather than concise - while he could be snappy upon occasion, he wasn’t in the least bit catchy and modern. In fact the very words made him shudder.
James Arthur Silver liked books, real books made from printed-paper, not those soulless ebook things that people read on their horrible plastic encased digital devices. There was no Internet connection in his shop, thank you very much, no wi-fi, and all that jazz. The coffee lounge was a technology free zone. A notice on the door announced this fact without shame. Laptops, Kindles, mobile phones etc and so on, were banned. Patrons of his premises could leave such things at home or switch them off before crossing the threshold.
People who did cross the threshold were welcome to pull a real book off real shelves and then settle down on a comfy chair or sofa, order a good coffee, or other beverage of choice, and get stuck into some good old-fashioned page turning reading. There were plenty of books to choose from. They lined the walls of the coffee lounge in all their glory. Many of them were an overspill from James’s own vast collection, housed in the flat above the premises. It was his love of books and coffee that had spawned the idea for his business venture when voluntary redundancy from the high ranking end of the Civil Service left him with time and money on his hands.
At thirty-seven years old, James wasn’t quite ready to idle his days away and decided to look around for alternative employment, on his own terms of course. He’d had enough of being a desk jockey and office rat. When the man who ran the antique shop beneath his flat jumped on the retirement horse, James decided not to bother to rent out to someone new. Why own commercial premises and not make use of them, so he did. The landlord and ex-civil servant turned caterer instead. ‘The Silver Coffee Lounge & Book Exchange’ was born.
The idea was simple. People could bring books and take books. Books could be read inside the shop, there was an alphabetically arranged shelf for books in process of being read. Complimentary bookmarks were provided, so as not to lose one’s place. Eager readers could take books home to read, and then return them. People also brought in their own surplus books and popped them on the shelves for others to enjoy. It was a kind of unofficial library with on tap coffee and cakes.
The business was a success. It proved a little haven in a busy modern world and it didn’t just attract the older patron either. He had a mixed clientele, and a surprising number of them were young people. They loved the old fashioned nature of the shop and seemed to welcome a break from the stress and strains of the modern digital era they had been born into. They relished talking face to face instead of Facebook to Facebook. James welcomed them with open arms, as long as they behaved themselves and kept their gadgets in their pockets. Anyone caught trying to access a device on his premises was sharply told to switch off or ship out. Not many people argued with a six foot ex-civil servant who looked like he could handle himself physically as well as verbally.
Along with coffee and other assorted beverages, James sold a modest array of edible goodies as well as a selection of classy greetings cards and small gifts. Life was good. Mostly. There was one small thorn in James’s side, his assistant, Josh, or rather the lack of him. He glanced at his watch. It was twenty to eight on a Monday morning and still no sign of him.