Credit: Strand Bookstore Fred Bass, pictured here in the store in the 1970s, still works at the buying desk on weekdays, where he has worked since he was 13 years old in 1941. "I wanted to keep working and not go on a fishing trip for the rest of my life.
This is where the fun is for me; it's like a treasure hunt!
The Strand has already hosted several speed dating events that while popular (the last one sold out) are still nerve-racking for many attendees.
I was wondering if adopting a vague accent and introducing myself not as Frank, but as Franz, the playboy son of a foreign diplomat, would be an effective cover story to feed unsuspecting journalistic subjects. For practice, I muttered some words in German under my breath – And girls, man, the place was lousy with them! There were so many girls, in fact, and comparatively so few men, that as soon as I entered the room, a bearded man with a businesslike haircut hurried me to the front of the line, saying, “Just go! ”, doing at an event specifically designed for socially capable intellectuals? “You will have three minutes with each date,” her voice boomed, “Then the boys rotate to the right.
All types of girls - young, old, curvaceous, willowy, bespectacled, un-bespectacled (is that a word? You are encouraged to talk about only the book you have brought to discuss.” Then, she added, with a faint hint of accusation in her tone, “Men: do not attempt to contact the women. I repeat: do not contact the women.” Literary Speed Dating is, evidently, a hot-zone for unwanted advances.
Inexplicably, though, literary speed-dating has yet to become commonplace here.
Anxious to try out this 21st-century method of merging reading and romance, I gate-crashed a literary speed-dating event hosted by the London School of Economics' Student Union Literary Society as part of the LSE's Literary Festival.