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"Did you hear that Keith Waterhouse died?"
My conversational opener with Toby English, who runs an atmospheric second-hand bookshop, off Wallingford's market place, received an unexpected response, which I don't really want to repeat.
After I defended the writer's breakthrough novel Billy Liar, English proceeded to write off the efforts of the whole Angry Young Man set, including works by Braine and Sillitoe.
I told him I wouldn't hear a bad word said against Room at tbe Top and Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, but English would not be persuaded.
He revealed that he hailed from the suburbs, not some dreary northern outpost, so he couldn't really understand what the Angry brigade were moaning about.
After being told there was no Waterhouse in the shop, I asked: "Got any Buchan?", and this time the bookseller was more obliging.
I came away with a red Thomas Nelson edition of The Dancing Floor, published in 1950, and a 1936 blue Hodder hardback of The Free Fishers. Each cost £4.
Earlier the same day, I had been in East Oxford, in the ramshackle Age Concern shop in St Clement's, and noticed a copy of Buchan's Huntingtower, which I had spotted about a year earlier.
Other tempting volumes included a signed first edition of John Bayley's Widower's House, for £5, a Graham Greene biog by an author called West, and The Erosion of Oxford, a planning guide from the 1970s featuring lost of black and white photos.
I didn't buy any of them, however, as I had already spent £6.99 on Destiny's Children by Anita Cleverly in the St Andrew's Christian Bookshop.
I was picking up an ordered copy after losing my wife's original, and I'm now finding it an interesting read myself.
Some people claim the school holidays are too long but I have used the time to travel to one or two dusty old book emporiums.
Highlights included Topping and Co in Bath where I was given a free cafetiere of delicious coffee. I was then promptly mistaken for a member of staff by some tourists looking for the horror section. My only purchase was a copy of King Ottakar's Sceptre, the only Tintin story missing from my nine-year-old's collection.
On my return to Oxford, I visited the Waterfield's store in the High Street one last time, to find that most of the book shelves had already been removed.
The shop closes this month as owner Ann Gate goes on to pastures new - she is training to be a teacher.
And following a planning inquiry at the town hall in St Aldate's the other day, I walked back to the office via the Gloucester Green market. Yes, it was Thursday.
The sun was shining and I immediately spotted a couple of Buchans in a box beneath a table at one of the book stalls.
Both the Thomas Nelson editions had dustjackets and were in fine condition. After splashing out on a Cornish pasty and a cup of lapsang at the Buttery, I only had £2 in change, so I chose Huntingtower instead of The House of the Four Winds. I hope it was the right decision.
I had an interesting phone conversation with thriller writer Gerald Seymour the other day, so now I am looking forward to plunderng my dad's superb collection of the former TV journalist's novels. He is a massive fan.
I was able to peruse the reading habits of Londoners on the Tube today, following a trip to the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand.
Only women were reading books. They were My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, The Feather Men by Ranulph Fiennes, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and Q&A by Vikas Swarup.
Another woman was reading a Nick Hornby paperback, but I couldn't see the title through the seething mass of office workers.