Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas (Or - You Keep Your Musak to Yourself! Would You Like A Chocoloate?)

So another year ends...

Darn, I had a great "the year at C & P" thing written but the dog went and ate it. I don't have a dog you say! Well how do you know? Ok, the dog from next door ate it. Alright then, I thought about it for a few secs then decided it was a lame idea. Or I just couldn't remember all the cool things that have happened this year. Or the X-Mas port drinking is taking a toll. Or something...

A bonkers year screeches to a Christmas frenzied end. (Adam is already safe in a Muslim country where Christmas isn't celebrated and I'm desperate to close but last minute shoppers are keeping me busy so I can't.)

All that remains to say is Merry Christmas and thanks to all the brilliant people who visited C & P this year. We love you all.

Next year we open a new shop. Or C & P implodes. Watch this space. Whatever happens, it won't be dull...

PS If you fancy a job and want to help us create what we hope will be one of the most dynamic and exciting bookshops in London - come and sing us a song in January.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On my hols

What can I tell you about Milan airport?

All the women I saw in Milan airport this afternoon were having a really, really, REALLY good hair day. And I mean all of them.

What can I tell you about Doha International airport?

Yes, there's lots of 'crazy' muslim women in head to toe black, except these muslim chicks have their Abiyas fringed with a Burberry check and a gold brocade that barely covers their Manohlos ringed with slincky anckle bracelets. They meet your look with the most thinly veiled contempt I have hitherto encountered - ever - and they are all wearing enough eyeliner to tarmac a small B road across the yorkshire moors.

All in all, one prejudice confirmed and one prejudice firmly rebuked. Result.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thanks again Marie...

Not content with crediting Adam and I with quotes that were in fact penned by Marie (the TLS - see below) we are now credited with publishing her book!

According to the Time Gods Behaving Badly was published by Crockatt & Powell. (Scroll right down.)

We wish! I was probably the first person to offer to publish Gods but, luckily for her, Marie rejected the offer and went with an internationally renowned publisher instead...

Friday, December 21, 2007

The C&P Christmas party c.1890

With thanks to Michael Cimino and surely the most underrated movie of all time. I haven't decided if it's me or Matthew on violin or more likely Charlie down the road. (Thanks for the beautiful pic Charlie)

All I know is, I'm the one with Isabelle Huppert and if Jeff Bridges is in it, it must be brilliant.

Thank you customers of 2007. See you in the new year and keep on rollin'...

Blog In TLS

Hmmm small. But I think if you click on it might help...Of course we are credited with a line that was penned by C & P SUPERAUTHOR Marie Phillips!

Matthew Spots Celeb Shocker!

Alan Rickman was in shopping this morning (with his dog).

I recognised him even though he was sporting the most extraordinary moustache I have ever seen...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The landlord and the agent

Just came to check us out. I think we passed. Mk 2 is full steam ahead.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Italian feed...

...just crashed. Hmm.

League Cup quarter final

Just watching the Arsenal, Blackburn Carling cup quarter final through an internet feed. The commentary is in Italian. Why would the Italians suddenly be interested in a crappy second rate english competition? And what if it goes to penalties?? Stoopidohhhhhhhhhhh!

ps 'TOP SECRET' FAO: Don Fabio - Robbi Savaggio es multo bene!

Plenty more fish in the sea

So, the Dostoevsky reading, folky guitar strumming former supermodel has hooked up with Nicholas Sarkozy. Damn, if only I'd known she was single. I like Dostoevsky, folky guitar and supermodels, I'm sure we'd get along like a house on fire.

Unfortunately, I'm two years her junior and judging by her former lovers Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and Donald Trump and now her new beau I'd say she has some 'daddy' issues. So, I guess it wouldn't work out. Would have been fun while it lasted though.


Is that the distant sound of frazzled booksellers I hear...

Roll on monday. But in the mean time, will sodding dhl get their arse into gear and deliver the two remaining boxes we should have had today, you know, the ones with all the customer orders in you tossers. It's not like christmas is a surprise to anyone, is it?

'Hey, it's christmas time. Do you think we need to lay on more vans?'

'Nah, she'll be fine mate.'

Monday, December 17, 2007

Proof I Was Not Hallucinating...

That's my right eye (the red one with glasses). That's also Toby and his new mate Jimmy Bullard - for all you non-footie types can you guess which one is the footballer?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's A Long Story...

But after losing a rubbish football match to a last miute penalty we
somehow managed to bump into Jimmy Bullard, Mark Pembridge and Alan
Brazil (!) in a pub in Putney...

Happy Birthday Toby!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

YES!! They get it! They really get it!

Two american tourists come to the till to make a purchase:

'Really lovely bookstore you have here.'

'Thank you.'

'It's like a Waterstone's where you've taken out all the rubbish.'

(Dances a little jig inside)

'That was the idea!'

Friday, December 14, 2007

The C&P recruiting policy for shop two


This just cracked me up

Steve Bell on Murdoch's son James taking over...

(If there are any copyright issues, leave a comment and I'll remove the post - even though it's pretty good advertising if you ask me. Find Steve Bell in The Guardian newspaper. Get your copy TODAY)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

To blog or not to blog

This blog, for me, is like an invisible friend. Somebody I can talk to when nobody is listening or watching and often as juvenile as the 5 year old me with my REAL invisible friend (and 'explains' the through-the-night ramblings that occasionally appear) and as such is unbelievably unprofessional.

Which makes it very shocking when someone comes into the shop and mentions something they've read here. 'I'm sorry, that's between me and ******. Who the hell are you?'

But from next year we're steppin' up. I don't think, from experience, our new chelsea customers will appreciate obvious drunkenness, rudeness, swearingness and stoopidity. So what to do? We've got 12 days before we close for 2 weeks. C&P fire up again from the 7th of january. Expect a new, mature style that will deal with serious business issues as befits serious business men (that's us, by the way). Expect a bookselling version of the Economist. Expect dry-arsed analysis of e-book market trends and the future of digitisation in the publishing industry. Expect C&P to be the first port of call for comment on the ground-breaking trends in the field of modernist literature...

...but until christmas we'll try and slip in as many knob jokes as is humanly possible. Then it's hasta la vista 'blog-as-we-know-it' and bienvenue! brave new world.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Crockatt & Powell Go Posh

Well, we were posh from the start really...Sure Waterloo will catch up with us eventually.

As soon as the news broke Pan was closing Adam and I (who both used to work there) got busy. We were looking at premises two days later and made an offer by the end of the week. Now the offer has been accepted and we go to the legals. Since both parties are keen to do a deal I don't anticipate too many problems.

It will be a massive step up - Division two to Premiership in a single leap - and it remains to be seen if we can cope with staff...(The only person we've tried so far ended up a bestselling author!)

But C & P one was a mental risk and just about everyone said we would fail, yet two years on we're not only still here but profitable too. We are 100% sure we can make a go of it on the Fulham Road. But talk is so cheap - it's time for some action...

What have we gone and done now?!

We've agreed the heads of terms and the lawyers are doing their thing. Mid-february next year, fingers-crossed, C&P Mk 2. A small but perfectly formed shop in SW10 not too far away from the soon to close Pan Bookshop. (Over the road actually)

Crockatt & Powell go posh. You have been warned...

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's official

I am now too old to stay up all night. Baaaad idea.

At least Christmas has arrived in the shop.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

And it was thus

Still, worth staying up to see a display of boxing brilliance from Mayweather. Best pound for pound fighter? Definitely.

round whatever

Floyd's a better boxer by some distance. Game over. Sorry Ricky.

round 5

I think Ricky has to knock him out to win. No more posts until sun-up.

round 4

Mayweather's good.

round 3

It's grubby and it's brutal but it's bloody brilliant.

round 2


Round 1

Ridiculously exciting.


Wesley Snipes, Sly Stallone, Bruce Willis, Brad & Angelina, Denzel... DAVID BECKHAM!!!!!!!! BECKHAM, BECKHAM, BECKHAM!!!!!!!!!.

Chinese sense of celebdom...

Not yet....

But I am enjoying trying to tune into something (a language) completely unintelligible due to my own complacency and general ignorance...

This bastard fight won't be starting before five atleast. I could have gone to bed early and woke up... Oops, as I write, here it is!

And we're on!

It's all Chinese to me

No English commentary. No matter. I've had a crash course in Chinese over the last two hours and I'm stone cold ready for the big fight.

Tick tock

Well, I can barely think of a dozen reasons why not to stay up until four in the morning.

I want some blood...

Shouldn't I be mentioning books some more? Being a bookseller blog an' that.

It's christmas! Buy more books!

Blimey, it's getting late

Much like tonights boxers I'm having to mine reserves of energy hitherto untapped. But it's all good, I've put in the training and my body is in peak physical condition for finishing off this wine box and then hitting the single malt. It's like the alcohol Olympics and I'm a fucking gold medallist in all but name only.

But the Chinese dudes sound very reasonable. I guess it's midday on the other side of the world. Who'd of thunk that Las Vegas and Beijing would have entered into such a synergistic relationship?

Round two

My Chinese friends are distinctly unimpressed by the second bout and I can't blame them. These fighters may be hitting each other but they have the punching power of an overgrown kindergartner.

And it is reminding me, obliquely, of the new gym I've joined. I go for the lovely swimming pool but the changing room is full of 'rippled' narcissists who's physique may resemble that of the championship fighters on display tonight but the only 'sparring' these weirdos entertain is with their own reflection in the numerous mirrors that saturate the place.

First Bout over

Couple of kids barely out of school. Unfortunately one of them has a glass chin. Game over. My inscrutable Chinese chums didn't even change their tone. No excitement. But it looked like it hurt...

It works!

It's only half two but the feed is working. We're on the underbill. Trouble is, it's in Chinese... Hopefully closer to kick off I can pick up some english channels. Christ I love the internet.

However, these Chinese dudes sound like they know what they're talkin' 'bout.

Quarter of the way through the Clough book... Recommended.

In my excitement... waiting for the prospect of some seriously controlled violence, I'd forgotten I'd written a blog post for The Bookseller magazine. Here it is. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense but it was written quickly and without much thought.

In other words, the PERFECT blog post.

What am I doing?

It's almost one in the morning on a saturday night. I'm home alone and it's only 3 hours to go before the Hatton/Mayweather fight. I've got no telly but I've found a website showing it for free and Yes, I am going to stay up all night.

I've got a tube of minstrels, a box of wine, bbc radio listen again and a book on Brian Clough (William Hill Sports Book of the Year). What could go wrong... free website crashing. I just know it's a 50/50 call. But it's worth it. Nothing like watching two athletes at the peak of their physical abilities trying to beat the shit out of each other.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Scott Pack from our near neighbours The Friday Project has an occasional piece on his blog of Songs That Make Me Cry.

Here's my nomination...

'Have mercy, Lord my god,
Let Thou my tears persuade Thee.
Look on me, how my heart doth
Weep for thee bitterly.'

I am not a religious man but you cannot deny the sublime beauty of art inspired by religious devotion. Luckily, there's no one in the shop just now...

Here's Jonathan Miller on this piece:

"There are many pieces that surprise and jump me and I never know what will get me, except one that always gets me, even if I prepare myself to it, or at least trying to resist it, to hide myself, not to ashamed myself of sobbing, and that's the 'Erbarme dich'. I don't know why it always gets me. Every time I even think about it tears start in my eyes, even now, and I don 't know what it is… It is about what it expresses. This moment of knowing, that you have forgotten that somebody said something about what you are going to do, that he will betray you. You have gone through all this dark horrible night, as was predicted. You did it, it is all done, and you only ask for some forgiveness. But the music in which it is expressed, that violin… And it does not matter if you are atheist or a Jew, by being an educated member of the eastern European culture. This is the most famous story. It is in your blood in a way that no other story is. It happens to be the most intense story of them all. You can read it again and again and again and it is never fails as a piece of drama. A priest might say that it has everlasting truth, and that this truth is religious, and you accede to it despite the resisting to the religious belief within you. It is not like that at all. It is something that is permanently there, whether you believe it or not, and that is that we are here to suffer and our designation is to die."


God's holy trousers

Look away if easily shocked. It's a cruel, cruel world.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

That German Bookshop

I am still trying to come to terms with the extraordinary difference between bookshops in Munich and London that I witnessed at the weekend and mentioned in the post below. What is it? Why is it that there should be so many more people in one than the other?

To start to answer the question one important yet stark difference between the two should be mentioned. In Munich, no offers. None. No three for two. No half price. No buy one get one half price. No £8 off. No £4 off. No displays in the front of house with This Months's Book of the Month. Everything is Cover Price.

So why, when the chains are convincing everyone that all these spectacular offers bring customers into the shop and have driven sales for the last ten years, do we get a bookshop in Munich with three times the custom a Hatchards or Borders would get but with no offers? Does this mean that if High street stores here stopped discounting there would be no customers?

Matthew and I were discussing this and we decided it was a question of value. I know it's going to sound elitist and I know there's going to be publishers and chain sellers exclaiming just how much they all love books. I'm sure there are lots who genuinely do. But I don't think you can escape the fact that publishers and booksellers have devalued books in the last ten years in this country. By their endless discounting and offers they have put the book in the same catagory as tins of beans and fish fingers in the mind of the public. Books are now things to be bought on the cheap and the great tragedy is that the process cannot be reversed. They have lost their aura, as Walter Benjamin would call it and have just become another boring bit of consumer tat.

Books are precious and bookselling should be regarded seriously and preciously. Another interesting fact about German bookselling is that you have to train for 4 years to become one, much like a librarian. It's a proper career to be taken seriously and compared to Waterstone's recent decision to change their employment structure that now makes it increasingly difficult to move out of the lowest wage scale is incredibly telling about the state bookselling has been allowed to descend to in this country.

That's odd

The new Manchester University Press catalogue came in the post today. It has wonderful books in it like Eleventh-Century German, The Public Culture of the Victorian Middle Class, British Civilian Internees in Germany and Democratising Coservative Leadership Selection. All fine and worthy topics.

But I do wonder why they chose a picture of a lingerie-clad woman with her tits nearly falling out for their cover? Odd. I know that on page 27 of the catalogue is a book on the french director Francois Ozon and that the picture is a still from his film 5x2 but the pic isn't on the cover of that book. So why does it grace the cover of the catalogue? Like I say, odd.