Well, we’ve been well received so far

The media have been hammering at our doors after personal interviews, in-depth analyses of nit infestation rates and old family louse recipes. The book is out and, by all accounts, selling well. Let’s hope for a nice surprise when the next royalty statement comes through the letterbox.

So far, we have had notices in a wide variety of places.

Southwark News came round to see us, mainly to take some pictures of Justine and me looking like complete dweebs. Can I just say that they succeeded admirably:

We even wore the head louse tee-shirts.

The London Evening Standard gave us a corner:

Read all about it.

We’ve been on The Guardian website, Families on Line did an interview with Justine, as did Book Fabulous, and Griffith Library in New South Wales have been good enough to put us in their ‘What the fact‘ section.

And finally, we have been reviewed in The Lady (“for elegant women with elegant minds”):

Actually, the book on ambergris looks quite interesting too.

Oh the irony, oh those dark unguarded looks

Oh dear. Teenager is in the bathroom tearing her hair out. Well, if not her actual hair, then at least the contents of her hair, the six-legged crawling verminous contents of her thick luxurious wavy hair. And it may just be that the hair is winning.

I nearly offer to help, but I am warned away by those dark unguarded looks. Her eyes seem to say: “It’s all your fault.”

And the accusations follow: “If you hadn’t written a book about them….”

I don’t seem able to follow this up with the question on my lips: “If I hadn’t, then … what?”

Whatever is the opposite of delicious irony, this is it.

The tension rises…

The tension was rising, the big day approached and to my surprise, I found I’d already had quite a lot of interest in The Little Book of Nits, not least from parents congratulating me on having the guts to address the subject in the first place. At this juncture I would like to add that the book is a joint effort obviously, but as a bookseller front-of-house as t’were, my adoring public know only me. Yeah, right. The adoring public actually only know my partner Jonathan, as he is the face of the business and there behind the till 7 days a week but that is why I have been so surprised. Clearly Richard and I have struck a chord.

So, when a really bright friendly lady gushed in and contrary to my usual experience, where the customer’s eyes desperately seek out Jonathan and fail to disguise their disappointment at obtaining only me, and asked if I was the Justine who had written the nit book, I was genuinely dazzled. Yes, that’s me! I offered, unable to supress my pride. Brilliant! she replied. Finally somebody has written about the b*stards! Of course, she continued breezily, ultimately the only thing that works is lavender oil…

My smile froze. Too late, she’d spotted it and stopped short. You, she eventually said, are going to tell me I’m wrong..

W..w.. we don’t endorse any products, I stammered. Lavender has been used for centuries as a remedy. We look at tea tree oil and citronella too. All these things have been used historically as er, natural repellents but, um, there’s no scientific, er, proof as such. Now she was disappointed and no doubt wishing Jonathan had been there afterall. I tried to fix things by explaining we examine all sorts of treatments in the book, from mayonnaise to electric zappers but I could tell we’d lost her.

The truth is the Bugman and I reach one conclusion in the fight against infestation, one sure way to keep the ghastly uninvited guests at bay. I wanted to SHOUT it out loud to her and anyone else scratching nearby (inevitably, when the subject arises…). At this point, the book was, to coin a bookseller’s term, NYP – not yet published – the wine was still on ice and the posters on order at the printers, so I couldn’t show her what I meant. You must use whatever works for you, I finally suggested and she left wishing us luck for the launch party, as deflated as a Poundland balloon.

The solution to head lice, I should have said, is a darn sight cheaper than vials of delightfully fragranced oils with pretty labels. But I’m a bookseller and not just an author  – you won’t shift many books by revealing the ending of a story before your customer has cracked open the first page, and at this particular moment we were still waiting for the stock to be delivered so that we could celebrate. 

So, I hear you ask, now that the party is over, just what is this mysterious conclusion that you and the Bugman arrive at? Come close and I’ll whisper it:  The Little Book of Nits, Bloomsbury, £7.99, available from all good bookshops…