Thursday, February 28, 2008

These Guys Are Well Into Their Fifties But They Still ROCK

Song title seemed to fit recent larks on Lower Marsh.

Sonic Youth - Teenage Riot

Would you like to accelerate towards the tipping point beyond which there is no avoidance of humanity being wiped from the face of the planet?

Er, I mean - "Would you like a bag?"


We've just handed the builder a 10 grand deposit and he's ordering the wood for the new shop.

Bloody hell.

8 weeks to go and counting...

It's not April Fools Day is it?

A leather bound e-book?


They have to be kidding.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On the Richter scale of inappropriate bookshop behaviour

About a 7.4

For some reason or other it seemed like a good idea to listen Missy Elliott's This is Not a Test in the shop and while a great record there are one or two tracks on there of a sexual nature one of which is Dats What Im Talkin About featuring R Kelly. Not ideal when it's just me in here and a young woman browsing the new titles...

Anyway, ramping up the scale of impropriety here's the video of Dave Chappelle's take on R. Kelly's er... misdemeanours.

Ahh, the ambience...

A friend was telling me her impression of the shop:

'It's like walking into a more intellectual version of a garage.'

Would that be a kwik-fit or an underneath the arches I wonder?

And does that mean we have more intellectual arse cleavage?

Do you think we can get away with pics of Sam, 23 from Northampton blu-tacked to the wall?

Or maybe we just desperately need to hire some women!!

Red Alert!

Dr Rick likes to try and catch me out:

"Hah, a book for a four month old baby!"

"The Rainbow fish, bath version."

Then I had to tell the Rainbow Fish story.

I was working as a bookseller in a bookshop in Marybone when I last suggested The Rainbow Fish to someone. Lo! Some days later the lady returns the book.

"Whaddaya doing trying to brainwash my children with Communist propoganda!"

After responding with a stunned silence she swapped the book for something else. She left.

"It's about sharing..." I mumbled to the space she had vacated.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Found Humour - Overheard On Lower Marsh This Morning...

A young woman is looking at the fruit on an old man's stall. She picks up a plum. She puts it down again.

"Don't squeeze the fruit love, I don't know where your hands have been. They might have been up your arse..."

Young woaman walks off, probably never to return to a market stall ever again.

It's not all down to Tesco is it...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Damn you Microsoft

Mistakenly updated internet explorer and not only have microsoft shamelessly copied Firefox it's totally ballsed up my settings so that the only bastard reason I use the thing - to watch the free football from Thailand - now doesn't work. Grr.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Exclusive! West the new East!

Contrary to Lonely Planet's latest London edition exclaiming the East End as the place to be, trend-setters Crockatt & Powell say No! While the bright lights shine on Shoreditch, Mayfair quietly goes about its business of being sexier, better dressed, more stylish, more intriguing and just plain louche. Sure it's probably international arms deals going on behind those elegant, nameless facades but we can overlook that for now as driving round the Mayfair streets in an open top Roller early on a sunday morning after an all-nighter of whichever persuasion takes your fancy remains one of my top teenage (admittedly slightly Austin Powersish) fantasies.

Oy Verity

I don't quite have Matthew's antipathy towards Fiona but we have to admit that it will forever and always just have to be Verity. This week has been especially brilliant.

Thanks Rory

We love it when a customer alerts us to a book that you know as soon as it goes on the table will just sell, sell and sell some more because it's so ace and lovely and value for money and and and...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dirty Pretty Things

Happened to find myself at Marylebone station this morning at 8am and while there was the option of joining the throng down the hole in the ground to the Bakerloo line I saw that it was shaping up to be a fine morning and thought, bugger it, I'll walk to Waterloo.

Passed Madame Tussauds and toyed with the idea of returning on my day off to spend 15 quid to sit in the Big Brother chair but that thought soon departed as I turned into Marylebone High Street. Down the road (not taking notes, no sir, at any other bookshops, at all) the street was yet to open for business and a pleasant ambulatory feel started to take root.

Through James Street as the waiters were putting the tables out for the day and the place where I always forget at which restaurant I had a particularly good spaghetti and clams, I had a sudden urge to look at shiny baubles on Bond Street. And what baubles they are! While normally a person morally, politically, philosophically and economically outraged by anyone spending fifteen hundred pounds on a handbag I had to admit that the wares on display in the Bulgari window did look really, really, really nice. Such materials and craft, I almost found myself submitting to their siren call...

But no! But then! In a maritime antique shop on Jermyn Street there was a nineteenth century Elm and Oak model of a spiral staircase. A thing of supreme beauty and not priced - surprise surprise (If you gotta ask the price, you're in the wrong place) but, I wanted it. I just bloody wanted it.

Ignoring my sudden urge to an acquisative nature I ventured down St James's Street, past St James's Palace and into St James's park where the daffs were out in full bloom. Then a walk along the lake (pond?) looking at Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Eye over the treetops and trying not to step on the birds. Through the arch at Horseguards Parade, trying not to get my eye taken out by the sabre-rattling sentry, across Whitehall and down to the river, trying not to get run over.

Across Westminster bridge and back to the shop my stroll took a leisurely one whole hour and anytime you hear London mentioned as just a dirty, big, grimy, rat-hole excuse for a city is just bloody wrong wrong wrong. It's beautiful. Really it is, very beautiful.

And if I had the money I would live in Mayfair in an absolute instant. And if you're tempted by the tube leave the house earlier and just walk. There are too many sometimes dirty but mostly pretty things to look at besides other peoples armpits.

Obama - I Love You

The guy just has so much going for him...



...and now Crockatt & Powell

All that crap about a lack of experience etc. If George can run the USA then I think just about anybody could. And I am just floored by his way with words. (Even though Bob the Builder got there first with the Yes We Can thing)

His middle name is even Hussein...

Spot the Difference



Here's a clue: While they are still endeavouring to respond to your enquiry we'll have already got your book and have it in the shop to pick up or posted first class where it will be at your house the next day while their endeavoured response may or may not have reached its way back to you.

Service, huh?

We win. Again!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

West Ham At The Weekend

...we might be a bit crap at football

...chairman Mo may have totally lost the plot

...but there is and will ever only be One Jimmy Bullard!

I am just out of shot in the pic at the top BTW - ever the man of mystery...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Ministry of Pain

I accidentally started a book on Saturday during a quiet moment in the shop. The Ministry of Pain by Dubravka Ugrešić was on the table and I picked it up and started reading.

I was speaking to a good customer about it today and he pointed out that the C & P bookgroup read this book a year ago. Sadly that was one of the books I didn't read - Marie took charge of that particular meeting. A real shame as now I want to discuss it with people!

The book looks at the various experiences of a group of exiles from the Former Yugoslavia.

(As an aside I have to say that I fear for the future of the Balkans. In all the pictures of the recent celebrations of Kosovan independence the official, EU designed, flags were nowhere to be seen. All I saw were red flags with black eagles - the Albanian flag - and a few token stars and stripes or Union Jacks. 44% of the population unemployed. Only a few Serbs remaining - don't forget the rest were revenge-cleansed by the KLA - and yet all the Serbs that have stayed are convinced Kosovo is Serbian. A recipe for disaster or what?) BTW can I point you in the direction of Mark Mazower's Short History of the Balkans - it's on the table next door...

Although I have to agree that the characters are not particularly well drawn, the translation is less than perfect and the ending sounds dodgy (all points raised at the bookgroup meeting according to excellent customer mentioned earlier) I am still loving it.

Why? Because fiction just seems so much more real than all the political/historical crap you see in the papers and on TV. Fiction is a way to live, for an illusory few moments at least, in the minds of other people.

Ugresic's descriptions of "our people" were instantly recognisable.

"It was just a plastic holdall. What made it special was that it had red, white and blue stripes. It was the cheapest piece of hand-luggage on earth, a proletarian swipe at Vuitton."

"In the Berlin neighbourhood where Goran and I had lived I would stop in front of the large window of the refugee "club". Through the glass I could see "our people" mutely playing cards, staring at the television set and taking occasional swigs straight from the bottle. The hand-drawn map on the wall was festooned with postcards. It had a geography all its own. The places they came from - Brcko or Bijeljina - stood at the centre of the world: these were the only homelands the men had left. Surrounded by smoke rings, they looked as "former" as their one-time nationality; they looked like corpses that had risen from the grave for a bottle of beer and a round of cards but ended up in the wrong place."

There are plenty of "our people" in South London - and their origins are as many and varied as there are countries and experiences.

As a window into the world of the displaced The Ministry of Pain is a great book, whilst still being a flawed book.

No shit, Sherlock

I think I'd be quite good in a Think Tank. Stating the blindingly obvious is a handy and financially rewarding skill to have in ones locker, ain't it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

You'd think I'd had enough of loud noises by now

But thanks to my new toy at seeqpod it's to much to resist putting together a playlist of loud stuff.

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Test your traveller IQ

This is a cool way to kill 10 minutes.

First go I got an IQ of 123, level 11 and 483,996 points. Beat that!

So near, yet so far...

'We're doing a shoot for the ***** **** weekend mag. The editor ordered 150 books from amazon and one has turned up. We gotta shoot today. ***** is looking for books and she'll be down in a minute'

Hee Hee. Ker-Ching.

Little Miss Christmas storms in barely out of school looking around frantically.

'I've got a list' she tells the photographer.

'If you let me have a look at the list I can tell you where to get them', say I.

And she ignores me as obviously I only run a bookshop and she's a VERY IMPORTANT PERSON in the meedja and all of her 23 years means she know instantly A LOT MORE than I possibly could about where to get her sodding books.

They waft out in the vain search for these books that are actually going to end up as freebies that the editor was going to swipe for himself at the end of the shoot. Arseholes. Nice photographer though.

Just as well I wouldn't pick up a ***** **** with a 10 ft pair of irradiated tweezers.

OK! You can stop it now! Really! You can stop! Right! Now! Shut the Fu*K UP!


They're digging up the road outside. I'm trying Carole King at full blast but not much competition for a man sawing through tarmac. May be insane by the end of the day.

In the mean time here's Carole for you good people to listen too without interference...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's been a long week

I noticed something for the first time this morning, something pretty banal really, but also something that shifted my mood from one of gloomy introspection to one of expansive joy.

The sun was shining at a wintry angle through Burgess park, one of the largest parks in London but also one of the least loved.

The yellow light was warming the grass and bringing out an extra level of greenness somehow, but in the long shadows cast by trees there was a thick white frost.

The shadows were roughly tree-shaped because they were the shadows of trees. So the frosty places were also tree-shaped.

As I noticed this I walked closer to the trees, Blackthorns I think. They were full of white blossom, the otherwise naked branches black against a blue sky.

As I came closer still my pace slowed and dark shapes stirred into crows that staggered away through the icy air towards the park interior. They left behind a dusting of snowy petals that fell onto the path around me.

I was reminded of a day in Richmond Park several years ago. Mary and I stood and watched a pond freeze before our eyes. A fierce winter breeze shivered the surface. Then we began to see geometric shapes appear. You could actually see the moments when the curved shapes of ripples froze into lines of ice. I was younger then and had a lot more time on my hands. I spent the next few months trying to fix that experience into lines of verse. I failed repeatedly until a moment of joy became a painful reminder of my limits as a writer.

Walking in today I still feel the need to try and fix the experience in place with words. But my failure to do so is less frustrating than it used to be. I used to see words as cages for experience. Now I see them more as cats eyes on a dark road...or the stars above a small boat, far out at sea...

Friday, February 15, 2008

"And up from the ground came a-bubblin' crude

Oil that is, black gold, Texas T"

On my walk in this morning my thoughts turned once again to There Will Be Blood, the magnificent film on general release at the mo'. Mostly excellent feedback but I've heard a few voices moaning that it is overrated or indeed one of our customers today who thought it just boring. An incomprehensible response I must say.

Anyway, I was thinking again about the film and it occured to me just how funny it is. Yes, bleak and disturbing and violent and insane but also very, very funny in a drily absurdist sense that reflects the total absurdity of Daniel Plainview's exercise. Some of Daniel Day Lewis's faces and gurns and poses are blackly amusing and not, I think, unintended on the part of the director and actor.

This struck me when thinking about the scene where Plainview and his boy HW are out 'hunting quail' on the Sunday ranch when actually looking for oil. The part where they are firing their guns at the ground and then find some oil on the surface really reminded me of the opening credits of the Beverly Hillbillies where Jed Clampett also finds oil which leads him to a mansion in California much as Plainview's discovery leads him to a similar mansion only in a much darker place. I don't think echoes like these are an accident. Knowing Paul Thomas Anderson's previous work I think he would only be all to aware of the imagery and would consciously use the theme as a reflection on the American dream and where it would lead.

The marvelous thing about this film is that in an age where 'What's it all about then?' is usually reduced to the length of a blog post or newspaper review we have a film that absolutely refuses to be contained in such a way. It twists and turns and reveals its complex layers on each richly rewarded re-viewing. Can't praise it highly enough although my film companion does think I'm becoming a little obsessive. (I could bore you with my thoughts on the framing devices in the cinematography but maybe that's another post on another blog).

Go and see it. Atleast three times.

Something for the weekend Pt 2

Oi Oi are you 'avin it this weekend?

Nah mate, I will mostly be changing nappies and playing with toy cars...


Manny, the vegetable stall geezer outside our shop, was wearing a beret yesterday. Manny is a great cockney patriot. When the French market comes to visit Lower Marsh he gets a huge George cross flag out and drapes it over his stall. So I was a little surprised to see him in French national dress.

"French market today is it Manny?"

"Eh? Where!" he's looking about, ready for war.

"Your hat Manny..."

"Oh that" he laughs "I was just fuc*in' cold!"

Then this morning I was down at Scooterworks with the other early morning coffee junkies huddled around the famous Scooterworks machine. Graham from the second-hand bookshop over the road was there. He didn't recognise me until I said hello.

"Oh hello - I din't see you there in that hat!" big piss-take grin on his face.

I had to explain that I bought the hat on holiday in France under pressure fom my wife who was worried about the increasingly hard to ignore bald spot on my head catching fire or something. I still wear it now because it reminds me of cycling to fetch baguettes and pastries from the closest village on sunny/misty mornings when only the cows were awake.

Hats eh? Do you have a favourite? Does it provoke comment?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sade rocks Africa

Ages ago we drew your attention to Sade Adeniran's book Imagine This. She contacted us after Adam issued a plea to self-published authors to leap off high buildings rather than bother us with their delusional crud (not his words but that was the gist!)

She came in and showed her self-published book to Adam. He loved it and ordered copies. I had a look and loved it too. We blogged about it and started selling...

This morninmg she e-mailed to say Imagine This has just been shortlisted for the African section of the Commonwealth Writers prize!

Brilliant news Sade.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

I have a pile of un-read books this high...

Yada yada yada I've heard it all before love. That does not mean you should not buy this massive John Cowper Powys book I am waving at you and it certainly means there is no escape from Denis Johnson...


Well this weekend I was foxed for a book to read. I was planning to revisit Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love but when I couldn't find it on my bookshelves. Must have lent it to someone at some point - the fate of many a good book.

So what do I do? I find something I have on the shelf but have never read and take it into the sunny garden. (In Feb? What the *u*k?) The book in question was Denis Johnson's The Name of the World. It is quite brilliant and possibly one of the most powerful and disturbing novels I have read despite being a mere 130 pages long. Now I need to talk about it with someone. But luckily Dr Rick should be in some time this week and I'm sure our usual free consultation will take place.

What is it about words eh? And names? So hard and small and definite and so totally unable to cope with the morass of human consciousness...

What do we talk about when we talk about love? What is the name of the world? What world? Does it matter or should we just ride this crazy century into the sky?

Jennie Walker is the Next Big Thing... heard it here first!

There's something going on in the real world where real people write real books. What's that you may ask? Well, people are writing really good books! Jennie Walker is one of these people. She ain't called Peaches or Cream and her dad isn't and never will be on the cover of magazines. But damn it if she hasn't written one fine little book...

24 for 3 will be on a bestseller list near you soon. In the meantime you can buy the CB edition from us at C & P and a few other places. You can also buy it online from CB themselves.

What's it about? The disintegration of a relationship and possibly a family as seen through the murky prism of cricket...

Friday, February 08, 2008

The devil makes work for idle hands

Been fiddlin' about on the website again. Changed the look and added a nifty enquiry form. Go to the homepage, select Enquiries from the drop down box, fill in all the relevant info, add some comments, click Submit and it will be the quickest and easiest way to ask us any questions.

A few pics of the shop on there too.

We'll be adding pages to the site over the months, some serious, some not so. Watch this space.


If, having accepted the reality that YOU WILL NEVER DANCE AGAIN ANYWHERE NEAR A YOUNG PERSON WITHOUT LOOKING REALLY DAFT and you want a book for the weekend then you could do a lot worse than grab yourself a copy of Jed "Bodies" Mercurio's new paperback Ascent.

A narrative as addrenaline pumped and explosive as the rocket propelled life it describes...

Something For The Weekend...

It's Friday and the part of me that remains resolutely under 30 is getting ready for the weekend...

...meanwhile the aged moi is preparing for an afternoon of childcare followed by a weekend of hanging out in playgrounds.

Once you start it's hard to stop

A mini Sly and the Family Stone appreciation blog (with a little bit of Stevie Wonder at the end) thanks to many hours on youtube...

and Stevie Wonder

There's a theme here, eh?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

More grooves

You know how it is, you're surfing youtube and then you come up for air 4 hours later. So much brilliant stuff so many grooves. Following on from the Fela Kuti I remembered this mentalist wig-out from the woodstock film. Just remember though, if the drums stop, there'll be a bass solo...

I bloomin love open source software

It makes you come over all fuzzy and warm to think there's all these people out there writing brilliant software and giving it away for nothing! While we've stumped up the spondoolies for Dreamweaver CS3 purely 'cause it's cool and you can do whizzy stuff on it there's nothing wrong with the great WYSIWYG web design site NVU. Now I've just discovered a perfectly serviceable alternative to the 700 quid photoshop. And free! La La Lah.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fela Kuti is on the radio at the mo'

The Byrne playlist this month really does lend itself.

Walter Benjamin's Archive

What a joy to open a box and pull out marvelous and fantastic writers everyday. If you held a gun to my head I'd say my favourite authors were Chekhov and Walter Benjamin and this new edition of fragments and notes beautifully produced by Verso is just a joy to hold. Opening at random:

"To find words for what one has before one's eyes - how difficult that can be. But once they come they batter like tiny hammers against reality, until they have pressed a picture from it as from a copper plate."

Brilliant. And it's only £16.99. What a bargain.

Monday, February 04, 2008


Some people like wearing uniforms. Some people put up with wearing uniforms. Some people loathe wearing uniforms. Which category do you think this lot will fit into?

Matthew and I are thinking this for the new shop...

How London is this? None more London

Finally got around to starting the proof copy of the new Hanif Kureishi novel which Matthew will be pleased about because I nabbed it first and he's been bugging me for ages to give it to him. It's really, really good (is there a better novelist out there at writing about sex? Answers on a postcard please) and I should power through it pretty quickly which is odd for me. But, the thing is it's so London specific, so of a time and a place and a type of people that it's almost provincial and I wonder when reading it how anyone who doesn't know the Goldhawk Road and Shepherds Bush market would engage. But then I quickly realise it's the same as me when I read books so centred in LA or New York or Mumbai. Either the writing and the characters are engaging and interesting or they're not and it doesn't matter what the name of the street is. I'll have to wait until the end of the book though to decide if Kureishi is taking too much for granted.

He's done it again!

Regular readers will be aware of our love for all things David Byrne and this months radio play list is no exception. Nearly five! hours of fantastic African rhythms. Go there! NOW!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson

Crockatt & Powell hover like intellectual eagles (ahem) above the book trade. Our piercing gaze spots the best books and plucks them from the dross like little mice from a field of long grass. We then present these juicy literary titbits, catlike, at your be-slippered feet...

But sometimes the little tasty buggers slip down their holes in time and evade our gaze.

That was the case with this EXCELLENT and MOST EXCITING book.

The Ghost Map will grab you from the first line:

"It is August 1854, and London is a city of scavengers."

In fact I was gripped from page two of the preface where a quote from Walter Benjamin that is too long to insert here (you'll justy have to buy the book won't you!).

Friday, February 01, 2008

Jacket design of the year

I know it's only february but someone's going to have to pull something out of the hat to beat this I reckon. Good work Phil Baines and Penguin. Looks a cracking read as well, an inquiry into what it is to a good job. 25 quid well spent.

And on the issue of value we were selling the Garvey book mentioned below at the book launch for 20 pounds. Had a few people turn up their noses at the steepness of the price. But when I went to the bar the woman in front didn't even blink when charged 12 quid for two glasses of wine. 12 WHOLE ENGLISH POUNDS! Priorities, huh. Mind you, I forked over 4 for a bottle of becks. Fools and their money.

No One Remembers Ol' Marcus Garvey

We were out last night in West London celebrating the launch of Negro With A Hat by Colin Grant.

It's an excellent book and we had a rather excellent time.

Never heard of Garvey? Read the book...

Don't forget him!