Several people have kindly emailed me recently, asking how they can find Steerforth Books. The answer is, I'm afraid,with great difficulty. At the moment I operate almost by stealth, selling books in the dark corners of the internet, like a 1940s black marketeer (but all above board, I hasten to add).
As for the actual home of Steerforth Books, it's a small dot in the middle of this photograph:
I'm tempted to do a sort of 'spot-the-ball' competition, but I'm not quite sure where I am. Wherever it is, it's too far from my house, but at least the journey takes me through some beautiful countryside.
Yesterday, on the way home, I turned off down a small lane and ended up here:
The atmospheric mist is actually a bonfire - just out of the picture a man, who looked as if he'd escaped from the 14th century, was burning leaves. I smiled at him. He snarled back.
Driving through Sussex, you can travel through time as well as space. The main roads inhabit a world of wi-fi, retail parks and smoothies, but take a B road and you suddenly find yourself among the ghosts of other Englands: medieval, Georgian, Victorian and early 20th century, where woodsmoke rises from the chimneys of solitary cottages and death watch beetles rattle in ancient beams (I originally wrote 'death watch beatles', which would be a good name for a geriatric tribute act).
Sometimes I dream of being in one of those lonely buildings, with a fruit and vegetable garden, some chickens and a shed for my books. However, I would miss being in a town, particularly Lewes. I love the feeling of being connected, looking out at the roofs of my neighbours' houses at twilight and listening to the footsteps of people coming home from work.
But to return to Steerforth Books, I feel quietly optimistic about the business. The sales are growing steadily every week and, by Easter, I think I'll have reached a level where the profits provide a reasonable income.
In the meantime, Mrs Steerforth and I have adopted austerity measures. Trips to Waitrose are out and I have made a solemn promise not to do any internet shopping under the influence of alcohol (although I don't regret buying the meteorite).
On the subject of alcohol, we have both decided to cut out drinking during the week. Sharing a bottle of wine in the evening had become a habit. It felt like a reward for the challenges we had faced during the day. But, aside from the health risks, when I worked out how much we were spending I realised that it would pay for a holiday.
Mrs Steerforth was particularly keen to cut down on wine after disgracing herself at a party on New Year's Eve, when she became more drunk than I have ever seen her.
Ironically, only hours earlier, she had published an article about the secrets of avoiding a hangover on New Year's Day.
Quite how Mrs Steerforth failed to follow her own advice is a mystery, but she was one of many people who have fallen victim to our neighbours' generosity with alcohol. She has no memory of jumping up and down to 'Born Slippy' or trying to read a bedtime story to our sons at 12.30am before sliding down the stairs.
But the true moment of horror came the following morning, when my wife couldn't find the underwear she'd been wearing the night before. The expression on her face when I suggested it might be next door was priceless (as was the look of relief when I later told her that it was actually in our bathroom).
Since then, Mrs Steerforth has been drinking elderflower juice by the gallon, determined to atone for her transgression.
2012 is going to be a year of sobriety and hard work. The next few months are going to be particularly exhausting for me, but it will hopefully all be worthwhile in the end. On the plus side, I should soon have a new range of book covers and ephemera to share - this blog hasn't been the same without them.