a cold cheeseburger & the waterstones lock-in, 2017

By Beth Davies

I’m fully aware all those reading this post right now have been sat eagerly by their phones, awaiting the tweet of a new Words Matter post. Well, I’m not one to disappoint. Here we are: grab a brew, sit and read all about my experiences at this year’s Waterstones Student Lock-In. I hope you made it to the night, but if you couldn’t attend we now use the power of literature to allow you to re-live it through words. Let’s see how it goes…

The night of the Lock-In it was a crisp Autumn night. Darkness had already fallen upon York, but instead of a quiet filter for drunk students Pop-World spat out at 3am, Coney Street was littered with the superior breed of York St John. The English Literature students (and maybe a few book fan-boys).

A queue of around thirty stood outside the big W at around 6:53pm. I was quite far towards the back, feeling optimistic, excited, but more importantly, trying very quickly to chug the contents of a McDonald’s take out bag without degrading myself in public. It kinda worked.

The queue moved quickly as we all seeped into Waterstones (outside of normal opening hours!!!) and showed our student IDs at the door. After not having set foot in Waterstones in at least a month or so, I was welcomed in with the familiar cosy vibes and comforted by books covering every wall and table.

Over the next 2 hours (yes, I stayed pretty much until they closed at 9pm), I touched many spines, read many blurbs, read many first pages, and some books even the second page too. I was a respectful book-lover and kept my greasy McD’s cheese burger I’d not managed to scoff outside in my bag (more to be said on this later). I un-systematically made my way around the shop; inevitably lapping the same sections many more times than I’m willing to admit.

I spent the majority of my time at the entrance of the shop where the non-fiction hardbacks reside. I told myself I wasn’t going to be reeled in by the Crime & Thriller hardbacks, but, as you can guess, I eventually was.

The shop was buzzing with many eager students carrying stacks of books I can guarantee you that they couldn’t really afford. The General Fiction section was definitely the sweatiest part of the shop. There was quite a lot of chatter, but in honesty, I felt that for most of the time I was there, I was in silence.

Although I didn’t leave with a handful of books and a shrunken bank balance, the experience was really soothing (but detrimental to the well-being of my feet and legs). I was inspired by the vast range of topics around me, and felt a kind of liberating obligation to explore as many books as I could in that time since there was this one-time-only-discount.

I was inspired to create a mood board of all the topics I browsed over that inspired me and encouraged me to start some new project. I picked up The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking as I have a growing interest in Danish living since reading Helen Russell’s The Year of Living Danishly. Denmark is supposed to be the home of the world’s happiest people, and I have an eager interest to know all of their secrets. (Plus, they like candles, and it’s a great reason to buy more and feed my obsession).

 As it got closer to 9pm, my inner old lady became very sleepy, and slowly every book blurb wasn’t being absorbed at all into my fatigued little brain. So, to end the night of wonders, I can say with no regret, that I ate that cold cheeseburger that had been in my bag for 2 hours. And do you know what, it wasn’t all that bad.