I went into a bookshop at the weekend. This isn't something I've done much of since I decided to limit my reading where at all possible to Greek. For some strange reason, my local literary retailers still insist on selling the English versions of their products. So I wasn't there to buy books.
In a rare display of brilliance, or at least common sense, someone realised that WHSmith (a British newsagent and bookseller) had a section full of DVDs which probably wasn't making much money, since they didn't have a large enough variety to compete with the likes of HMV, so they moved the Post Office there. This caused me a lot of confusion the last time I wanted to post something, since the old premises was surrounded by boards and signs telling me that a building society was coming soon, but not giving me any hints about where the Post Office had gone.
Whilst I was waiting in the long queue, I noticed that next to the "Biography" section, WHSmith now have "Tragic Life Stories". It seems strange that they have enough books to go into this section, and enough readers who want this particular specialism.
A tragic story
I can imagine that a lot of biographies contain tragic elements, and I can also imagine a lot of people who like reading biographies, but tragic ones? "So, what type of books are you interested in?" "Oh, I always read tragic life stories." Why? Do some people feel better about themselves by reading about others who've had really shitty existences? Or are they masochists? Or people looking for a reason to reach for the razor blades?
Talking of which, years ago there was a character known as "Suicide Sid" in the area where I used to live. He earned this title after taking an overdose of paracetemol, and living to tell the tale. I suspect that he was more interested in attention than in actually doing away with himself. I used to spend a lot of my time in the local pub drinking with a retired friend, sadly no longer with us. "Suicide" came over one evening and remarked that he often saw us both in there. "Are you father and son?", he asked. My friend said that we were. "What do you do?", was the next question. "We're both out of work balloon pilots." I don't know whether or not he believed this - nor did he find it funny - he just moped his way to the next group of people at the bar.
I've no idea what became of "Suicide Sid". Maybe he's the subject of one of those tragic books? I hope not...