I saw this story on the BBC news website last week. Like many people my first thought was; ‘why would you ask to be let out?!’
When I was a teenager my best friend’s mum was the manager of the Coventry branch of Dillons bookshop (remember them?). Once or twice a year they would have stocktake days where a small gang of us would spend a blissful Sunday holed up in the closed store counting books. We’d go round the store in pairs scanning and checking all the titles in our allotted sections. Stacey and I worked fast so we had plenty of time to poke around the shop and chat. For us it was a brilliant day, although looking back now the full time store staff who’d be back at work the next morning were probably not so thrilled.
During these stocktake days with the shop almost empty and the lights on dim, I’d always spend a bit of time thinking about how brilliant it would be to be locked in the shop overnight. I was a practical dreamer; I always assumed the door to the staff room and the toilets would be unlocked so comfort would be taken care of. Then it would just be a matter of working out how best to use the time. I’d clearly start by rearranging the furniture to make some sort of nest – possibly raiding the children’s section for something squishy to lie on.
Once the base camp was prepared I’d need to choose my reading for the night. I could imagine that this would take some considerable time; a whole enormous bookshop to choose from with no restrictions. Do you read a comforting classic? Something childish you couldn’t read in public because people would judge you? Something racy you couldn’t read for the same reason? One huge tome to last the night for the quality or lots of smaller novels and go for the quantity? Something impressive and improving? To be honest at 16 or 17 years old I’d have curled up in a chair with a pilfered bar of chocolate and a cuppa and read something romantic – although I’d probably have put a copy of Ragged Trousered Philanthropists next to me just for the look of the thing. There’s only one section that would have been off limits. In a huge, empty shop at 3am lit only by the security lights, there is no way I would EVER have read a horror story.