Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Friends in high places

Liverpool must be staying at the Marriott round the corner ahead of tonights BIG GAME. I bumped into Peter Crouch in the lobby there as I was coming out from my morning swim.

He's Big! He's Red! His feet hang out the bed! Peter Crouuuuuuuuuuch! Peter Crouuuuuuuuuch!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


So calm and peaceful.

But under the surface there are some little yellow flippers working really really hard 'cos somone says we said we were opening next week...

Where's the coffee?

Waiter! More coffee!

A Message From The Crockatt & Powell Marketing Division...

...gone to lunch.

Back in five minutes.

Monday, April 28, 2008

It's like a cross between...

... Ummagumma period Floyd, Joy Division, Tool, Fugazi, Aphex Twin and the Velvet Underground all with a strange ethereal voice layered across the top. This is a good thing.

Being a 37 year old bloke who grew up in Bristol, OF COURSE I was going to buy the new Portishead record on the day of release.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Place Your Bets...

The first book we sold at Crockatt & Powell was Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis.

It was the day before we opened. Everything was more or less in place and folk were peering through the window from time to time. Before long one bloke knocked on the door.

"Is that the new Bret Eason Ellis I can see there?"


"Can I buy it?"

"Erm, yes, of course..."

So he did.

I wonder what the first book sold in Chelsea is going to be?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Always, always get other people to do things you have no idea about

Panic stations this morning as I remembered that I'd forgotten to order the new Employer's starter pack from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. Then relief as the woman on the phone tells me that the starter pack is already on its way because our accountants organised that when we saw them last week.

The key part of being a boss is remembering to ask other people to do their job and do stuff for you. It's going to take some getting used too as C&P has always been a bit of a DIY project.

We're still on track for two weeks today, (!) so back to isbn inputing although having already opened one shop doing the opening stock order for another, even slightly larger one, is considerably easier.

(Must go easy here as by our hubris shall our petard be hoisted...)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Dapper Little Elf...

...reckons Marie's book is wicked!

The Desmond Elliot prize is a new prize for first novels. Usually we are sniffy about prizes but seeing as it's a mate of ours and all we suddenly think prizes are great. Go Marie! All the other books on the list are crap and you know it. WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN. I'm sending the vibes out...

Well done Oh former "employee". Note to publishers.

Lay off the staff! We have a bookshop (or two) to run.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Balm From Dr Rick... soothe the suffering of the scousers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Boss

Super-star-illustrator-extraordinaire (and ex-Pan Bookshop co-worker) Tom Gauld has a new *limited edition* screenprint of a massive robot boss out.

Resistance proved futile. We have to put one up behind the till at the new shop. A reminder of everything we have worked so hard to escape...

...and just the usual blend of weird/funny/cool that we love Tom for.

I remember reading his CV at Pan where his former boss described him as the "best pie-maker in Scotland".

Saturday, April 19, 2008

This one's for you Jim!

Daddy Big Bike...

Crockatt powered by a Chinese 49cc 4 stroke...

Powell powered by his "run and become" knees and legs...

We're going places baby!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The First few lines...

... of Mark E Smiths new autobiography, 'Renegade':

'I sensed it long before it happened.
They reminded me of the recent England team: the Beckham generation; that lot that fucked up so spectacularly in 2006 because they couldn't do what they were paid to do; because they couldn't spend time away from their birds; that lot who couldn't stop crying.
Lads with no guts, I can't stand them...'

Brilliant stuff. I hope it stays like that through the book.

We're off to the launch party for this book next week up in north London somewhere. Should be interesting if the man himself turns up...

(I can just hear him muttering, 'fookin' freeloaders...')

Lionel Richtea

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ladbroke Grove to Herne Hill...

...doesn't work. Don't even try it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ukelele Practice then down to work...

So far today I have been trying to get Finn to bang his tambourine in time to my ukulele version of Johnny Cash's Walk The Line.

This afternoon I'm being driven to Reading for a picnic in the carpark at Lidl. (We might also go to a football match - or we might just stay in the carpark).

What a life eh? Fuc*in pure GLAMOUR.

Friday, April 11, 2008

An ideal time to be opening a new bookshop

Or not.

Open a Shop and Build a Wendy house...

Why? Why? Why?

A Rastafarian asked me if I considered myself to be an intelligent person the other day and I said that I did not, that most people who considered themselves intelligent were in fact completely stupid.

I am also reading an excellent book titled The Humour of Kierkergaard: An Anthology.

Within this excellent book there is a section about arguing with your wife, why these arguments have a particular absurd humour of their own (I assume the same goes for arguing with your husband).

It goes a little something like this:

The weather improves.

We spend more time in the garden.

We decide a wendy house would be fun for our boy Finn to play in.

I am thinking of my dad and I (with little Finn hammering the cat in the background) designing and building a wendy house. A kind a male bonding/skills passing generally ape-like patch of behaviour that might last the entire summer.

Meanwhile my darling wife is on the Internet looking at freecycle and e-bay and finding all sorts of ready-made wendy houses that we could buy or barter into our garden NOW.

Ok, so I am notoriously, well ok legendarily (is that a word? there are legends about my crap DIY anyway), bad at DIY.

But we are a vain bunch us blokes. I have taken her lack of faith in my DIY abilities as a challenge. I must now design and build the best wendy house EVER.

Intelligent? Moi? I don't bloody think so!

Berlin Fragments...

Time rushes by and the world insists on barging in on the idle thoughts of an idle series on Berlin may have to be cut short.

Before we move on, what is it with the traffic lights in Berlin? I'm not talking about the weird graphics above I'm talking about the Triffid noises they make. I'm serious, the traffic lights make these clicking noises - just like Triffids. I suppose it must be to help blind people or something - but they seemed to make the noise all the time, not just when it was safe to cross.

Anyone, er, enlighten me?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

9th of May

We think that's the date for the new Crockatt & Powell to open down Chelsea way. Jan the builder has been beavering away and the place is all ready for the chosen colours (Quartz Flint don't you know). Matthew, myself and new blood Stuart were in the shop last night deciding just what books we think we want to sell. Reckon we've covered all bases but will soon find out no doubt.

Shelves and furniture are almost finished off-site and ready to be nailed to the wall, or however it is Jan does these things.

I think the next 4 weeks are going to fairly whizz by so don't be surprised if the blog slows down a bit. We're going to be busy boys...

Monday, April 07, 2008

Stop it now

There is an ad on tv and in the cinemas that is clearly a rip off of the Antonioni movie Zabriskie Point and I tell ya I am getting mighty tired of twenty and thirty something creatives in ad agencies appropriating my cultural reference points to flog car insurance. STOP. IT. NOW.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


Yes that is Crockatt & Powell in the new Mike Leigh film.

Yes it is a brilliant, warm, happy, lovely, cuddly film.

No, that isn't adam or I.

We are not so grumpy.


More of What I Saw...

So, Berlin is Dark - a city of the night. We woke up and set off on a hunt for breakfast. Sadly our hotel was situated in an area where all traces of breakfast had been surgically removed, either that or stolen by Starbucks and Dunkin' Doughnuts. Even worse we soon discovered there had been an alien invasion during the night but the Berliners were so blitzed by their extreme nightlife (or maybe just overwhelmed by the weight of their extraordinary and often tragic history) that nobody seemed to have noticed. We did though and stared in stunned silence at a series of buildings that appeared to have dropped from the sky.

Roth was there before us once again. On page 125 of What I Saw:

"The wickedness, sheer cluelessness, and avarice of its rulers, builders, and protectors draw up the plans, muddle them up again, and confusedly put them into practice. The results - for this city has too many speedily changing aspects for it to be accurate to speak of a single result - are a distressing agglomeration of squares, streets, blocks of tenements, churches and palaces. A tidy mess, an arbitrariness exactly to plan, a purposeful seeming aimlessness. Never was so much order thrown at disorder, so much lavishness at parsimony, so much method at madness."

The other aspect of Berlin's architecture we agreed with Roth on was the way things didn't look at all conventional. When I say "cat" you think of a small furry animal with whiskers. When I say "pub" you think of a cosy room full of already dead geezers supping pints of best. (Oh, well I do.) In Berlin this all breaks down. You walk into what you think is a bank, only to discover it is a "cool" bar. You are searching in the guide book for the location of a particular flea market only to discover you are sitting in a cafe in the middle of it but it was so different to the way you expected it to be you hadn't realised.

P116 Roth once again:

"Still more confusing is interior design. I have learned that those hygienic white operating theatres are actually patisseries."

Friday, April 04, 2008


Bloody hell it's nice. Really, really nice. And it's all mine... (Except mine doesn't have any wires)

What I Saw: Berlin 28/03/08 'till 30/03/08

My first impressions of Berlin? Dark. Ok, so it was late by the time we finally arrived on our paper aeroplane, but even so, as we circled the city I was struck by what appeared to be large patches of darkness in what I thought was a large European city. At ground level things were still gloomy. Where London is all bright lights big city and by the way it might be night but we can still see clearly what you are doing so we thought we would cctv your behaviour in case we might want to use it in evidence against you later Berlin seemed made for mischief, all dim lighting and dark shadows - perfect for lurking.

Joseph Roth agrees. On p100 in my Granta edition of What I Saw when he's talking about traffic policemen the following:

"After dark a flashlight would be a useful thing, or, better yet, some proper street lighting. Even some populous and quite central parts of Berlin still look like the deepest and darkest provinces after nightfall. The economizing of the city authorities must have cost quite a lot of people their lives."

To be continued...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Did you know...

...that I am the only person on Blogger who lists "Leaving things to go mouldy" as one of their interests.

(There's a bloke called Steve who shares my passion for stag beetles.)

That's why I don't bother with these social networking (headhunting) sites. Nobody would join my clubs.

Having said that - anyone else love leaving things to grow mouldy? Maybe I should post some pics? Try to attract a few members...

Why Would I Want A Book On Grain Elevators?

That would be the Becher I presume?

Sir, you would not want a book on Grain Elevators.

Nor would you want a book on Water Towers.

Or Framework Houses.

Or Cooling Towers.

But there are a few nutters out there that find these haunting black and white photos of industrial buildings beautiful.

Nutters. Come to C & P - we have weird, beautiful books for you...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Tax with Added Value

Soon we'll qualify for estimated monthly VAT returns but for now we're on the naughty step with the people at HM Customs and Excise.

Naughty naughty boys, don't do it again or an authorised person may be directed to distrain upon our goods and chattels.

Unfortunately I think we're the kind of children that need six of the best from the headmistress before the message finally gets through...

Language Problems

The German language posed several problems for the ignorant Englishman (me).

1: I do not speak German.

2: I tried to speak German to everyone I met in Berlin for fear of appearing stupid. My neurosis in this direction was amplified by meeting an American who spoke fluent Russian at London City airport and then hearing various other people in our queue speak German so well I assumed they were German only to later discover they were clever English people.

3: Every schoolboy knows that all our best swear words come from German.

After managing to buy a ticket for the bus using a machine (thus avoiding potential humiliation by rubbish German spoken to the kiosk lady) I knew I had to validate it. I pushed my ticket into a variety of slots on what turned out to be a post box. Gingerly I approached the kiosk and attempted my first German conversation. My hesitant attempt was met with what sounded to the untrained ear like "Pi** off you fu**ing *un*"

I opened my mouth to reply and she began to yell. "On the bus! On the bus!" until I backed away, hands raised.

My useless German got me into all sorts of trouble. I tried to order potato soup and was served this. I tried to bite through the skin and couldn't. The meat inside squirted down the back of my throat. Added to the fact the mustard looked like something unmentionable I had to give in.

Anyone who started off sounding like they were swearing at me cartainly was by the time I admitted defeat and lapsed into English...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

East and West - Old and New

Our trip began on 28th March at London City airport. While Heathrow was melting in the West under the weight of the British Airways chief executive's hubristic balls about a "gateway to the 21st century" our own flight from the East was abruptly cancelled. The plan to "go small" as a way of avoiding the usual horrors of air travel was blown off course by a brisk cross-wind in Silvertown. So we settled down to indulge in that most British of pastimes - queuing.

It wasn't long before we made friends. A chirpy Mancunian called Smichael was also headed for Berlin. He was looking forward to a stay at the Berlin Hilton courtesy of a friend who had bought her boyfriend a surprise trip to Berlin for his birthday and then been dumped. He used his Northern genius to blag us seats in business class. Then I began a conversation with an American named Glinton. His flight to Frankfurt was also cancelled but that wasn't his main concern. He was also about to miss a far longer flight - to Kazakhstan...

Glinton said that queuing is unknown in Kazakhstan. He said that any activity where a queue might be expected turned into an elbows out free for all and that it really did his head in. He reckoned it was all because of life under the communist boot - people didn't want to queue because if they waited their turn by the time they arrived what they were waiting for (food, the bus) would have gone. Glinton was from Oklahoma and loved his new home on the steppe. Why was he in Kazakhstan? Why do Americans go these places dummy? OIL.

"There's enough oil out there under the Caspian Sea to keep the planet rollin' another thirty years."

When I questioned the quality of the product (having read several books that claimed the "peak oil" point has already passed) his eyes glazed with junkie glee "It's the good stuff man, liquid gold"

Earlier Mary and I had played a game of "spot the German". But I got it wrong every time. All the people who appeared to be speaking fluent German into their mobiles, indeed who were speaking fluent German into their mobiles, turned out merely to be clever and well-educated English people. I asked Glinton if he spoke another language and he did - Russian. Once again he launched into a tirade against Kazaks. In a region of former Soviet republics everyone spoke Russian but only Kazaks speak Kazak. He couldn't understand why the locals were insisting on changing the street signs from duel language signs into Kazak only. Glinton, they call in culture and though I know it's hard to understand sometimes, to some people it matters. A lot.

After years of queuing we managed to book onto an evening flight and received £20 of luncheon vouchers to spend at the airport. Despite this invitation to dine we left as quickly as possible and went to find a pub in historic Limehouse. We rode the DLR through the shocking docklands landscape, the equivalent of the trailer parks and dust-bowls in between the East and West coasts of the USA, a secret world nobody speaks about. Here we saw islands of heavily designed pioneer developments surrounded by collapsing factories; windows smashed, walls covered in faded adverts then covered again in luminous graffiti. Who would have guessed such wastelands could exist in our great city? I should get out more.

Once in Limehouse we headed for the river through driving rain. The street names were evocative and buzzing with history - Horseferry Road, Trinidad Street, Butcher Row, Grenade Street - surely a place we could find a good pub? But despite the names, all traces of the past seemed to have been erased. I phoned pub overlord Adam who claimed there were great public houses to be found amongst them thar yuppie hell-towers - but where?

Through the rain a sign. Hanging baskets overflowing with flowers. The Grapes! Inside was jammed with true London folk, mysteriously at leisure in the middle of the working week. And so, peace at last, not gorging on currywurst in the Tiergarten but munching whitebait from a pint glass, washing them down with the finest ales in the land...