Monday, July 31, 2006

From the mouths of babes...

I just had the economy explained to me by a six-year-old.

He came in, said hello, and then sat down and read Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs.

You have very good books, he said when he had finished. Where do you get them from?

We get them from the people who make them, I said.

So the money is recycled, said the boy. You buy the books and you have to pay for them. Then you sell the books. You can take the money from the books and spend it on more books, or you can spend it on your house. If you spend it on your house then the people you buy from can buy books. So the money is recycled.

Um... that's right, I said.

Do you have any more Harry and the Dinosaurs books? he said.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Something was troubling me on my recent trip to Belgium. Ouside of Brussels every town or city I visited or passed on a train had one disturbing feature that I had never picked up on in this country even though it is a more than common occurence. Without fail the tallest structure in every place, the highest most dominant feature of the skyline was over 400 years old. At no point in the subsequent 400 years had any of the townspeople sought to compete or to exceed the accomplishments of their medieval or renaissance predecessors by building higher or bigger. And then I realised that of all the cities in the world I have found home all of them have superceeded their historical roots. You may not like glass and steel but to me it signifies engagement and technology and desire and excitement. I may appreciate Bruges or Salisbury or Rome even but I would never want to live in them. Their stifling reverence of the past or their lack of ambition would suffocate me. I guess that's why I live in London - pockets of the past and frighteningly modern at the same time it feels like a real living breathing city. One of our highest points is a ferris wheel - how cool is that?

I think there might be a book in this. Mmm. I can feel a list coming on too. British towns and cities where the highest point is from a building or structure pre 1901. Any takers? Or is there a website that lists the highest buildings in each town? There must be.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Finn establishes the difference between day and night despite confusing signals from the adult and mechanical world...

After almost three weeks in the world certain things were becoming clear to Finn:

1: Though named after a giant he was, if truth be told, rather on the small side.

2: Mum was great.

3: Dad was daft.

The fourth thing that Finn felt close to understanding involved certain changes, cyclical in their nature, that could be observed in any 24 hour period.

During the day an orb of fire blazed away making the beans wilt and mum fret.

At night a paler, cooler, sphere hung in the sky that, though less energetic, appeared to Finn to be a benevolent friend.

There were more subtle differences. During the day dad wasn't quite so daft. With a good shot of coffee in the morning pops could be quite articulate. At night daft dad tried to put nappies on upside down. He tended to sway and stumble and groan.

Similarly mum was more grumpy at night. She seemed less eager to feed Finn, slower and more bumbly.

These differences Finn had noticed despite the best efforts of the adult and mechanical world to confuse him. For example daft dad had a habit of singing (badly) to Finn the following song:

Night and day
You are the one
Only you beneath the moon
And under the sun

Whether near to me or far
It's no matter darling where you are
I think of you
Night and day

This suggested there was no difference between night and day BUT THERE WAS.

Then there were the feeble, mechanical lights, that tried to imitate the sun as they dangled from the ceiling. It could be night BUT STILL LIGHT. There was something wrong there and certainly potential for confusion for one whose brain was as yet only partially developed.

Showing signs of his future heroic status Finn stood by his careful observations and decided that yes there WAS a difference between night and day.

Sooner or later he would change his behaviour and do as mum and dad clearly wished - sleep at night and play by day. But he felt it was important to establish who was boss. He would let them sweat and groan a while longer.

After all, he liked to wander in the dark at night with dad in the garden, even if it meant listening to more nonsensical songs!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok here he is...


Thanks to Toe -B for the snazzy Dylan suit...

A lovely moment in an otherwise hot and sweaty day...

A lovely lady wants a ticket for Zadie - but we've sold out. Bummer.

Then she buys two of our lovely Melville press novellas and says we have just become her favourite bookshop.

She lives in New York (bummer) but also said we were better than all the indi shops she knows in New York too!


It's SO NICE when we meet people that really GET what we're trying to do.

Read this and get angry

Elif Shafak, the Turkish feminist author - and not only one of C&P's biggest sellers, but also an incredibly nice, gracious woman who gave one of the best talks we've ever had here - is the latest in a long line of writers to be put on trial for 'insulting Turkishness'. It's not even her who's done the insulting - it's a fictional character in one of her novels. But that, it seems, is enough. If convicted, Shafak, who is six months pregnant, faces up to three years in jail.

Read more about it here. Then start writing angry letters.

Monday, July 24, 2006

As the song said "There ain't no tits on the radio" - There are now!

Yes, Crockatt & Powell will be cominatcha over the FM airwaves on Thursday, thanks to Resonance FM 104.4

We have an slot from 7-8pm and we'll be playing recordings of a couple of our events.

If lots of people listen it may become a regular slot so tune in loyal peeps.

Hear the HUGELY talented Pete Hobbs reading from The Short Day Dying and I could Ride All Day In My Cool Blue Train then be grilled (nicely) by our very own Marie.

After that we have Segun Afolabi and Tony D'Souza reading from and talking about their books A Life Elsewhere and Whiteman, once again our Marie keeps them in line as stereotypes about Africa are destroyed by our valiant authors...

I have, in true budget radio style, agreed to MC the show so if you want to send a shout out to any of yer mates call me on 04774 333 973.

ThisreadinggoesouttothemanliketheColindowninHackney - sound mate! You're bonkers you are Geeze!

(That last bit was a joke - the rest is true!)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Grown men do cry.

Anyone who just watched Tiger Woods win the open and not shed a tear is indeed a heartless son of a bitch.

(ps A Guilty Secret: I love golf. I don't play much and i despise it's middleclass status but when you're on the course and you strike a 7 iron off the fairway cleanly there is almost no better feeling.)

And, as an aside, the term 'Links' Golf refers to the land between the sea and arible land that was useless to everybody. So, democratically, it was decided to use this waste land as a game knocking a tiny ball around trying to find a hole. Golf is a product of the Scottish Enlightenment and should be revered as such. That it has been taken over by executives is a diminishment of its noble origins. But, Tiger wins and more and more people are interested in the game. Let's wrest the control of this marvelous sport from the pringle-wearing nazis and return it to the true faithful who love it for what it is...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Keep The Ampersand Flying

Seeing as we seem to be talking more about films than books at the moment, I watched the adaptation of Orwell's Keep The Aspidistra Flying last night, a really fun film starring a poignantly fresh-faced Richard E Grant and the enduringly beautiful Helena Bonham Carter. It's quite hard to tell that it's Orwell if you don't know, as it's light and funny and sexy, and nobody is tortured by a fascist regime and there are no pigs in it. The only real clue is the cheerful deconstruction of the British class system, and of course the notion that there are far too many potted plants in this world (cf the famous spider plant at the door to Room 101.) It was a lovely way to pass an hour and a half, but really I mention it because the climax of the film involves Grant, as aspiring poet Gordon Comstock, hitting the absolute bottom rung of social degredation, and his girlfriend and sister having to come and rescue him before he degenerates into a stagnant pool of filth and proletarianism. Said bottom rung? Working in a bookshop in Lambeth. "I couldn't possibly go there by myself," says a horrified Bonham-Carter as the long-suffering girlfriend. "Even the tomcats walk in pairs." Still, at least Comstock appears to enjoy working in the shop. All he does all day is read the paper, eat crisps, drink tea with the neighbours and flirt with the customers. I was going to say that things have changed a lot since then - you no longer need a police escort to get safely through SE1 - but now that I think of it, maybe it's more of a case of plus ca change...

Friday, July 21, 2006

Finn and the Quest for Quality Coffee in Camberwell

Dawn came with rosy fingers then scarpered sharpish in the face of a couple of almighty farts from our diminutive darling - Finn.

Daft daddy had also been awakened by Finn's digestive disaster and began to help with the morning ablutions. Unfortunately the large but foolish one was not really a morning person. It had taken a mere 13 days in the world for this to become clear and now, as the big berk tried to push Finn's head through a hole that was clearly designed for an arm, Finn resolved to take action. Coffee - that's what they needed.

A short while later they were off, Finn directing the giant fool with a series of relaxed grunts and snorts, towards the shops in Camberwell Green.

Everything would have been cool if daft dad could be persuaded to drink instant coffee but sadly his taste in beverages was as particular/peculiar as his taste in books. It had to be quality coffee, ideally picked by happy organic farmers and fairly traded too. But this was Camberwell the town that boasted not only a huge £1 shop but also an even larger 99p store. Quality anything was hard to come by.

The newsagent was pleased to meet Finn. She had a paper but no quality coffee.

Next they tried Mr Cruzon's fruit and veg shop. Finn loved Mr Cruzon whose favoritee things were small cats and caramel flavored yoghurt. After fighting through a gaggle of cooing strangers, all of whom exhibited symptoms of mental illness of various levels of severity, they found the coffee.

There were two kinds of Greek coffee, Polish coffee, Palestinian coffee with chicory in it or Douwe Egberts which was the closest thing to quality coffee they were likely to find within a mile of the green. But Douwe Egberts was a large corporate brand and Dumb Dad liked small things - probably explaining his ridiculous attempt to make a living by running an independent bookshop.

So Egberts was off the list. One of Mr Cruzon's friends began to explain how to make Greek coffee using gestures, Greek and random English words. The large but foolish one, still smothered in a pre-coffee fog, nodded and said things like "Ah I see" while clearly not taking any of the explanation in.

Eventually they left having also purchased a melon for mum who was snoozing at home. She always seemed tired though Finn couldn't understand why...

To cut a rather long story short dad managed to make Greek coffee in a pan and woke up enough to read the paper in the garden with Finn. As he put the Middle East crisis into context for our tiny titan we can pause to reflect:

If children are the future but adults act like children - will there be a future for Finn and all the other little things?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Back to my roots

I honestly can't remember the last time I felt such sheer visceral delirious enjoyment of a book as Hollywood Animal by Joe Eszterhas. It's nearly 800 pages but I've gone through it in a few days and I'm a slowwwwww reader. Eszterhas is a screenwriter responsible for such gems as Flashdance, Jagged Edge, Music Box (actually a great movie), Basic Instinct and erm, Showgirls. The book is by turns egotistical, mawkish, insulting, funny, gossipy, libelous, moving and powerful. Not what you'd expect at all looking at the cover.

I remember the first time my dad offered to take me to the 'pictures' when I was 5. All I could imagine was a big white room with empty, gilded picture frames on the walls and I didn't want to go. But we went anyway and saw Esacpe to Witch Mountain and that was it - my love affair with movies began. In the following years it was Star Wars (boring), Close Encounters (Mind-blowing), Alien (I didn't actually go but my pops came home and relayed in all its glorious, gory detail the stomach-exploding scene) and ET (A bit soft but I remember standing in the queue and dad asking loudly what I thought ET stood for - The Extra TESTICLE, ha ha. I was embarrassed). As a teenager through to my early twenties I secretly wanted to be a director. When I read a book I saw it as a film. I still believe my as yet unmade The Idiot by Dostoevsky would have been one of the greatest films ever. But it was only after I started to read about hollywood and it's machinations and the type of person you had to be to make it I realised with sadness but some relief that the directors life was not to be. I returned to my other great love - making stuff. (How did I ever end up a bookseller?)

Anyway, still given the choice between a film I want to see and a book I want to read the movie always come first (how DID I become a bookseller?). It's no wonder I really love the Eszterhas book - it's the best of both my worlds.

ps Reading my last few posts I think I need a break. I'm off to Brussels for 4 days on monday. This time I really will be going to the Pictures - the Breughel room in the gallery and I shall try and find some peace and humility.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Warning: This post contains very strong language. Please don't complain about it.

Disclaimer: I've only ever read the first 12 pages of Lord of the Rings before becoming so bored I wanted to chew my fingers off. The following is based upon my viewing of the final installment of the film franchise seen tonight on the usually reliable sky movies.

So... we want to re-establish the dominion of men after the all powerful and all evil control of the lord Sauron - the big eye in the sky - or as we all really know it as, that giant flaming cunt. Let's face it, it's not an eye, the source of all evil according to Tolkien and the world of men is a huge, all-seeing engorged vagina. An all powerful cunt, forever distant atop a towering yet blackened phallus, a phallus never quite allowed to touch the almighty power of the all-seeing cunt. And who does this world of men send to defeat the vagina - tiny men. Tiny, midget, hairy hobbits. And what do they need to defeat this cunt - A Ring. The symbol of marriage, partnership, domesticity and the vagina's control of men. To destroy the cunt tiny, yet strong, men must toss this ring into the fires of Doom. To destroy the power of the engorged vagina midgets must travel to Doom, melt the ring and recover the kingdom of men. Mmmm. (These tiny men have huge feet. You know what they say about the size of a mans foot)

But it's the arbitrariness of fantasy fiction I can't take either. Faced with an enemy (of a black, let's not go down the race track... evil army) when required the good white men can summon an army of ghosts. Erm... where'd they come from? And then a fleet of giant eagles appear just when you need them. And of course you've always got the pointy-eared elves to help out. And those darky orcs seem to die pretty darn easy too.

LOTR was voted britains favourite book recently. It's not mine. I fucking can't stand it.

I Want My MTV

The modern beat combo Dirty Pretty Things are filming their latest pop video outside the shop. I hope they hurry up as they're scaring away customers with their drug-addled rock star behaviour!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Here begins a chronicle and account of the legendary exploits of the small but mighty bean known throughout the land as Finn...

One morning Finn awoke and knew his kin, the beans, were in danger. Snoozing the evening before he had a vision of Suzanne Charlton pointing to some numbers and then whilst asleep the sun had blazed brightly in his dreams.

Those little orange flowers that one day, with care and water and not too much sun, would become good green beans were doomed to be frazzled without swift intervention from their protector Finn.

But how could our tiny hero reach them? The beans grew in a far away land at the bottom of the garden. The grassy plains were wide and full of insects. The jealous and potentially vicious cat lurked in the bushes. He was sure to take any opportunity to dispatch his newborn rival. Despite being a legendary hero famed throughout the land as a mighty warrior Finn was finding it hard to hold his own head steady on his shoulders. (In fact the most heroic exploit so far achieved by the tiny titan was rather embarrassing. Finn could wee on his own head! But that was no help to anyone.)

But where strength fails, wit prevails!

Bawling at the top of his little lungs Finn summoned the tired and sluggish giant - dad. He yelled on as the dimbo went through the usual routine designed to settle Finn - nappy, burping etc.

Finally, as Finn knew he would, daft daddy strapped our hero onto his chest and opened the back door. It was cool outside but already the first rays of sun were shining on the vegetable patch.

"I think we'll water those beans" said the big fool and off they set, watering can in hand (there was a ban on), flying over the grassy plains high above the p'd off cat to water veg for all mankind.

Here ye how the poets tell of the day Finn saved the beans by use of his wit and guile!

And they all ate fresh garden produce happily ever after...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Oh crap.

I just went to update our website and it appears my computer has had a nervous breakdown and lost all the web files. Bugger.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Zidane (zih-dahn) noun 1 An act of random madness 2 A particularly satisfying legal term denoting justice 3 An uncommonly elegant person 4 Revenge verb 1 To perform an act of random madness 2 To take revenge 3 To seek justice 4 To suavely flaneur down the street
- PHRASES n 1 That was a real Zidane 2 Zidane is served 3 Phwooar look at that Zidane over there 4 Zidane is a dish best served cold v 1 That blokes gonna f***ing Zidane him if he's not careful 2 'And so Monte Cristo had finally zidaned Monsieur le Comte' 3 Mr Jeffrey Archer: M'lud, I only seek to zidane myself against these heinous accusations 4 She was zidaneing across the boulevard in the most beautiful Chanel suit.

I Heart Buses

8.20am. The 468 is at a bus stop taking on passengers. A tiny schoolchild with a huge, heavy backpack is running for his life up the road in front of the bus trying to catch the drivers eye. Just as he gets to the doors the bus pulls off without him. Nice. I felt a 'Zidane' moment coming on...

(When I was a kid I had my own classroom with my own desk where I could leave all my books. In a lot of schools these days kids don't have the same luxury. They have to carry all their stuff with them in those oversized backpacks like little academic nomads)

Note to Ken: Trams please!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Welcome to our world.

Hello there young baby crockatt! Looking forward to making your aquaintance.

It's at times like these when we turn our thoughts to all the good things in life, all the joys and miracles and all the things we can teach young Finn as he finds his way in this crazy world.

We have to teach him of the kindness of people, of generosity and spirit. We have to let him know that depite all the horrors Finn will see as he grows up that we are basically good and that love will prevail. With one important exception...

When being abused by a 6ft 5in eye-tie defender it is perfectly acceptable to headbutt him in the chest as hard as you possibly can. Yes! Get in there my son! Zizou, c'est magnifique!

(I think I might be alone in my admiration for Zidane's extraordinary act of violence but to me it wasn't the petulant act of a dilettante Rooney but the result of 20 years of abuse, much of it rascist. It was the last act of defiance of an extraordinary career. Not for Zidane the pathetic ignominy of defeat on penalties and a quiet sloping off into the Berlin night. No, he'd had enough and he wasn't going to take it anymore. There's more psychology and drama in this one moment than in any number of world cups.)

Sorry Finn, don't listen to me, I'm a bad person. Listen to your Mum and Dad, they're much nicer.

Once again, welcome to our world.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

It's a Boy!

Mother and baby and Dad all said to be doing fine. We haven't heard from Matthew what they're calling him yet, so there's still time to place your bets. Mine's for 'Fyodor'...

Friday, July 07, 2006

How did that happen?

We've got a couple of events coming up in the shop in July. The week after next Perrier Award-winning comedian Daniel Kitson is doing 3 nights as a warm up before taking his new show to Edinburgh and then the week after we've got an evening with recent Orange winner Zadie Smith (who doesn't usually do this sort of thing).

We don't actually know any famous people (actually I bet Marie does) but I guess we know people (customers) who know famous people. I s'pose it helps being in central London too. Anyway, as you can imagine we're quietly chuffed and looking forward to it all so many thanks to those who made it possible.

Oh, and Matthew's wife went into labour today. Crockatt & Powell & Sons (or Daughters)

Honestly, you turn your back for a minute... How did that happen!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


A while back this bloke came in talking about a plan he had to publish an A4 sheet once a week that had a short story on it. These stories would be sent in by the public. The sheet was to be called Litro and would be distributed to folk at tube stations.

We had a lot of nutters through the doors in the early days.

But this chap is a cut above...

Check this out.