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    December 4, 2015 by  
    Filed under Danny Benair's Gospels

    My fave book of the year, latest from the writer below:
    He is funny!

    Dave Atkinson, a good lad with sparkling teeth and unobtrusive hair, from Random House, sent me an email inviting me to a brewery. 
    Inviting a Hollywood Brat to a brewery is like inviting a jihadi to a beheading. I was into a Paul Smith suit and a black cab within five minutes. I didn’t even read the rest of the email. Truth is I didn’t even really focus on the adjective “disused” before the word “brewery”. 

    So it was with a certain degree of surprise and an attitude of aggrieved peevishness that I alit from the cab on the cobbles of Brick Lane and stood for a frankly insulting twenty seconds and still nobody rushed up to pour a pint of ale down my throat. 

    Being a bright chap after five minutes I reached into my right breast pocket (triple-stitch, silk V-flap) and pulled out my iphony1 to re-read the email.  

    Well, knock me down with a feather boa it wasn’t an invitation to a brewery after all but to a book and record emporium (inside a “disused” brewery) bewilderingly named Rough Trade. They wanted me to sign some books. 
    Which books, I wondered?

    As I, in my eagerness, was early and my taste buds were Pavlovian primed I decided to have a wander and neck an unsuspecting Peroni or two.
    What an area. The poetic street names; Chicksand Street, Deal Street, Spitalfields, Whitechapel, Petticoat Lane, each one warming my soul and stirring my inner Jack the Ripper.

    And not far from Brick Lane those twin bastions of peace, forbearance and rainbows (the East London Mosque and the Great Synagogue) snuggle in cheerful proximity.
    And I say to myself…what a wonderful world.

    But duty called and I made my way back to Brick Lane and Rough Trade. 
    Kids let me tell ya. What a place. Shelves of music stretching from here to way the hell down there. Books you’d actually like to read. Sharp, friendly, helpful, knowledgeable staff who actually seem to care about what they’re doing.
    This place is better than Tower Records on Sunset Blvd., which was a shrine. And forget HMV on Oxford Street where the staff don’t even know what the letters HMV stand for (I asked ‘em).

    Shop at Rough Trade for all these reasons but also shop there for the greatest reason of all.
    They’ve got stunning vinyl.
    And they’ve got miles of it.
    As Madison Avenue might have put it in the ‘50’s…
    When you’re in the mood for vinyl…make it Rough Trade.

    Anyway, once in, there stood Dave Atkinson with his undeniable hair, nice shoes, a table, some books and a pen. The books turned out to be “Sick On You”. I would have preferred to sign something by T.S. Eliot but you take what you’re given.
    Dave had a great sense of humour too. He asked if I wanted something called “a coffee”. 
    What a riot. 

    I also met the casually stunning Nina who seemed to be the Grand Exalted Empress of Rough Trade. I deduced this by observing the way everybody tensed up and increased their industriousness when she walked by (including me and the customers).

    I duly signed the books then bade the good folks at Rough Trade farewell.

    On Monday I was informed that ‘Sick On You’ is Number 6 in their Top Ten Books of the Year. When they told me I was surprised, humbled, emotional, at a loss for words. All I could manage to stammer was “Who the fuck is number 5?”

    Thanks Rough Trade. My first and probably last Top Ten hit.
    I won’t forget you.

    By the way, I signed one of the books with a tiny added kiss, as in “x”. If you get that one let me know.