Generosity echo

Thursday 2 August / Day 4
80 books given away since Monday.

Weymouths Volume 4: Migration / Bound for New England. This is the book that I created for the original b-side proposal. It’s the passenger list of the Hull Company ship—the 104 women, men and children who sailed from Weymouth, Dorset to New England in March 1635. Theirs was the first settlement to remain permanently in what was to become Weymouth USA.

This morning I set-up next to the Boat Project, in Weymouth Harbour. The Boat Project is a beautiful thing (handmade from crowdsourced wood) and it’s a magnet for attention. I thought I could benefit from the energy it’s generating but instead, the book blanket felt small, in a very crowded context. Very different from the Aunty Vi’s effect.

I gave away most of the books in about an hour, and then it started raining.

Charlie found Geoffrey at a nearby pub and brought him over. He’s an astrophysicist and he’s featured in volume one (he overheard my conversation with Jack at the pub in the Old Rooms Inn and told us his own stories about Princeton and Oxford). He remembered me from March and I gave him a copy, and saw him again later, sitting a different pub, book in hand, explaining it to someone else, so I gave one to his friend and another one for him to take to someone else.

B-side interns!

Jack and Mairi visited Weymouth, MA and set the whole narrative in motion. He’s the star of volume one! I gave them a boxed set.

I was interviewed by Emily Cooke from Wessex FM.

And The Phoenix Bakery was painted a new color today. Love it.

I didn’t anticipate that people would bring gifts to me, in exchange for books or in appreciation of the project. Whatever the reasons, it’s happened a number of times already and each one has been remarkable. Liz, one of the members of the Italian club who meets at the bakery every two weeks, came by today to give me a guide to the Dorset ridge—accompanied by a long story about a missionary in China, whose bones were returned to the Isle of Portland (I can’t remember it now). And Bev came to the bakery to look at the books and give me this 1918 guidebook to Weymouth.

None of this would have happened if I’d sold the books. By giving them away face-to-face, another kind of wealth flows between the artist and recipient, a reflection in return. A generosity echo.

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