Thursday, August 28, 2008
Finn's nursery was closed for a few hours the other day so I had to look after him in the shop for a while. As soon as he'd finished dusting we sat down and read some books.
One of the books he chose was called Lost and Found by a bloke called Oliver Jeffers. The story involved a boy finding a Penguin on his doorstep. He assumes the Penguin is lost and sets out to row him back to the South Pole. They make it but it turns out the Penguin wasn't lost after all - he was lonely. There is a happy ending. I thought it might be a bit long for him at first but he sat there quietly enough. We went on to read a couple of other books and I thought nothing more of it.
The next morning I could hear Finn singing in his cot. I went into his room and he was singing row row row your boat and clutching the cuddly Penguin he got from London Zoo. Blimey.
I bought the book next day and now it's a firm favourite.
This Oliver Jeffers bloke must have something special I thought. I looked into the matter and discovered he's the chap behind The Incredible Book Eating Boy and How To Catch A Star. He's won many prizes. Then I dimly remembered a rep talking about The Incredible Book Eating Boy with great enthusiasm. Maybe I should have listened...But then publishers are always banging on about how great books are, books that soon show their true colours by not selling anywhere near as strongly as expected.
My point? Oliver Jeffers has "it".
But what is "it"? That's just one of those questions really. What makes one thing art and another dross? What is the thing that makes you love that person? Why FFC?
I suppose that's the human condition. We all want "it" without having the slightest idea what "it" is. And then advanced capitalism lets rip with the whole creation of desire/commodity ting and makes money out of our desperate need for "it" by pretending to have discovered what "it" is and selling it to us...
Patent Leather Moleskine anyone?
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
They are covered in Italian patent leather (shiny).
They are red.
There are day per page or week per page.
That means there are four kinds.
THERE ARE ONLY 300 OF EACH KIND AVAILABLE IN THE ENTIRE UK.
If you want an extra special pressie for someone then get in touch quick as these really are super limited.
Beauty and style come at a price - pocket daily £38 - pocket weekly £35.
Buy from here.
*Ok, not completely exclusive. But certainly very hard to find...
Friday, August 22, 2008
Been thinking the same thoughts as I've been re-doing all this website and blog shenanigans. What is it we do? What is the website for? The Blog? We are Booksellers, we sell books. In a shop, a real live shop. We're not html whizzes and we haven't got the cash to pay the real whizzes to do it for us. The websites should be a reflection of the DIY ethic at C&P towers but not even attempting to be too slick because to be honest we're just not even approaching the foothills of slick.
I like to think on Seth's twin bell-curve we're just about half-way up 'Real'. But then I've never been to good at self-evaluation. I'll settle for competent. That'll do me fine...
Or, as a friend said to me the other day as I showed her v4.7 of the ever-evolving C&P web presence; 'You know, some people have a talent for this website stuff. You're not one of them.'
How many peeps came to the last one in may again? A 100,000 you say! Really? Gosh, I'm sure we could sell a few books if we really try very, very hard.
NO, no! go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kist
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.
But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globèd peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.
She dwells with Beauty — Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
1250-1900, 1919 edition)
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I'm in one shop by myself and adam is in the other shop by himself.
Crockatt & Powell.
This is all messed up! I thought being a company director was all about creaming millions by fleecing idiots. Aren't we supposed to be sunning ourselves on a beach somewhere whilst beautiful chicks create a breeze with their athletic belly-dancing?
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
I hauled myself out of bed, staggered to the kitchen and downed as much coffee as I could before walking from Camberwell to the River in the rain. Finn was yelling "I wan go bookshop with daddy!" as I left and generally acting sad that I was going - something that kept me in a cheery mood most of the walk as I had started to wonder if the little chap knew who his dad was. He also claimed to have been dreaming about Fulham last night - something else guaranteed to put a smile on my face - though nightmares would probably be more appropriate since we just lost to Hull. (Hull!)
Lower Marsh always looks worse on a rainy Monday. I decided I needed more coffee so swerved into Scooterworks for a takeaway latte. Fifi was there and so was Craig. I was feeling so anti-social I just muttered a hello and went to sit by the back door until the drink was ready. With a weak smile I left, realising I had just done my bit to confirm the stereotype of booksellers being miserable people.
So far so Monday. Hauled the shutters up and got splashed with muddy water. Grrr. Opened the door. Turned on lights. Went to have a quick "p" before the first punters arrived and...
HOLY COW BATMAN!
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BOG?
Thankyou. We are not worthy. Thankyou. I will say it again - thankyou.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
If ever you're desperate for a slash, and all options have been razed to the ground Armageddon-style leaving C&P as Last Man Standing, take my advice: cross your legs or use the street. I climbed the boys' rickety backroom stairwell to The Toilet this morning, itself an assault course for the hardy, and returned in a sheen of sweat feeling nauseous. I almost pitied the hideous eyesore that serves as the 'petit coin' with its air of neglect. Even the mice don't go there anymore. Hours later, having tackled it with a cleaner containing formaldehyde, it's now feeling less sorry for itself, if not exactly proud....... and one is less likely to contract a rare form of bowel disease. Which, of course, is an added bonus.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I would write under the name Egbert Tooler.
I'd be happy with 1% of Tolle's sales.
In fact I'm not joking any more - let's make this a pitch.
The Power of Noo by Egbert Tooler
Have you ever done something really bad and wished the ground would open up and swallow you?
Have you ever walked into a black tie event with a purple bow tie on?
Have you ever walked into a party and seen someone in exactly the same dress?
You have? THEN YOU MUST BUY THIS BOOK IT WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE AGAIN AND AGAIN.
IF YOU WOULD JUST READ THIS BOOK ALL YOUR PROBLEMS WOULD VANISH.
Not convinced? You want more detail? Ok, the Power of Noo works like this. When/if you find yourself in one of the above situations you just close your eyes and count to 10. Then yell NOOOOOOOOO as loud as you can and you'll feel a lot better. Soon after you will realise your life is perfect and it will stay that way forever.
PS If you (yeah you) nick my idea and publish this book I will hunt you down and eliminate you.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I knew about the book instantly so this obviously and conclusively proves the inherent superiority of independent bookshops! Or sort of. Case closed my friends, case closed. Ha!
Monday, August 11, 2008
How to get dressed in three and a half seconds: TM
1: When you get undressed pull down trousers and boxers and socks in one movement leaving them on the floor by the bed where they fell.
2: Take off shirt and chuck on floor.
3: Stand, bleary eyed, in position with feet in trouser legs. Slip on socks. Pull up trousers and boxers in one fluid motion.
4: Pick up shirt off floor and put on.
We left the flat in record time and were at Victoria in time for the 9:45 train. For reading material I had the Sunday Times, the Hesperus edition of A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov and Charlie and Lola's Haircut Sticker Book. I read about Russian troops fighting Georgians in South Ossetia, then read about Russian troops seducing Caucasian women in South Ossetia then stuck funny wigs on Charlie that were really meant for Lola whilst yelling with glee at a passing JCB racing track. Most of my life consists of similarly bizarre clashes of media and culture these days.
Arriving in Broadstairs we bought our meat pies filled with real Kent meat and then slapped on the sun cream and hit the beach. But that's cutting a longer story short. To get to the beach we had to negotiate troops of Morris dancers and ale-quaffing, bell-covered folk-music lovers. It was Broadstairs folk week. (Another clash of cultures that. Ale drinking plump middle-aged folk VS lager swilling, skinny teen wide boys and their scantily clad, breezer drinking schoolgirlfriends. )
On the beach we had great times building sandcastles and stamping on them.
Then we had great times catching creatures. (A small crab, several shrimp and a beautiful starfish - all released back into the wild as soon as mum had seen them.)
While Finn slept I drank Hobgoblin and consumed the remains of the paper (yes I ate it) whilst
the Maz wandered round the folk stalls. She later described them as selling "the biggest pile of tat I've ever seen". I was very relieved to see she didn't come back with a rainbow coloured hat. What is it about folk music that makes people appreciate rainbow hats? And clogs. And baggy striped trousers? The music is often great but the apparel is fu*king terrible.
Finn woke up and we ate dripping ice-creams and listened to an impromptu folk gig that started on the bench opposite us. I really do love folk music. But why? Why? Why? Why the bad clothes? Even I - possibly the most fashion challenged man in the world - can see how dumb those people look. The kids might be pissed up and loud but at least they looked great.
And all the while the sun beat down. White heat. Blue sky. The sounds of the sea and accordions.
Then back to London after a brief argument about who lost Finn's shoes.
In London it was raining. Raining and raining.
But we took a chance and went to be beside the seaside and had a lovely day.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Anyway, I liked this one. Nice enough tune but anybody who gets Natalie Portman and Bollywood dancing into their video deserves as much recognition and praise as possible. So, in my own small way...
I can just imagine the meeting at Sales and Marketing:
'It's by a 47 year old man whose life, body and mind have, well, fallen apart'
'Is it funny?'
'Er, no, not really. In fact I'd hazard he was clinically depressed when he wrote it'
'Not funny at all?'
'Really, no. It's incredibly bleak. This is the mind of a certain type of middle aged man who really cannot see any future for himself or the world'
'Can we get anybody to say it's funny?'
'...Er... I suppose... There's plenty of Rent A Quotes out there we can use'
'Great! And falling apart you say? My kids love that Mr Potato Head toy where you stick the bits onto him and they fall off again. Stick that on the cover! They'll love it!'
And so it goes...
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Reading One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was an experience that I think I could say changed my life.
My dad built a bookcase his architect friend said was impossible. It should have collapsed or fallen over right away but it didn't. It withstood many years of use and held hundreds of books of all shapes and sizes, completely covering one wall in the living room from floor to ceiling. As time goes by I am increasingly convinced that this wall of books is one of the reasons I now find myself surrounded by books on all sides. If I was bored I could just go and grab a book. And because my parents were big readers there were always plenty of great books just waiting to blow my tiny teenage brain apart...
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was a book that seemed to ooze importance. I passed over it it several times until the day arrived when I felt ready to read it. I was suitably impressed. As a portrayal of survival, the sheer power of the imperative to live at all costs, it was stunning. What I was less aware of were the political surroundings. I knew that Stalin was a monster - but only in a vague and hazy way. How could ideas, mental constructs - ideas that were supposed to enhance the living conditions for all mankind - lead to such horrors?
And I have recently read Simon Sebag Montefire's Sashenka which charts the progress of a youthful revolutionary's arc from idealistic Bolshevik through to her despicable end at the hands of the party she helped to create.
(If you prefer non-fiction then Anne Applebaum's superb book Gulag is essential reading)
Solzhenitsyn was an important figure because he never shut up. He insisted on reminding people of the horrors of the gulag in the same way that Primo Levi and others have helped to keep the holocaust in the minds of the masses.
A great man has died. But his books survive and will continue to be read for as long as a civilised and just society remains a work in progress...
Saturday, August 02, 2008
You might just discover brilliant books in it.
Like of kids and parents by emil hakl from the excellent Twisted Spoon Press.
Take a father. Add his son. Place them in Prague and watch them wander about from pub to pub. Listen to their rambling conversation. Find yourself in literary heaven.
(I'm always quoting chunks of books out of context and it never really works but I'll do it again because I just have to ok?)
"Boy was I glad to get a chance to read Joyce's Ulysees back when I had my pancreas operated on, Iva brought it to the hospital, because I'd asked her to bring some really thick book, I'd meant something like Melville or Victor Hugo, I'd even have enjoyed reading Kipling again after so many years, but Iva just took all the thick books off the shelf, looked at them and put the thickest in her bag and that turned out to be a copy of Ulysees, which someone had forgotten at my place at some point...It wasn't you by any chance was it?"
"No, I've got my copy at home. I've started reading it two or three times over the years but have given up every time somewhere around page fifty."
"Oh well, I finished it, you know I was reading it so attentively, like nothing before because I was thinking that it might just be the last thing I get to read in this world! I was taking in every word, not that I understood any of it, but at the time I didn't care...This sort of literature - what's called belles lettres - is mainly for people who otherwise don't get a lot out of life, it's for miserable bastards, you know. Everybody else, those who are healthy and have money, they only look at it as a bit of light, tedious entertainment before falling asleep."
After seeing a prom performance of Richard Strauss's last songs I popped into Gramex on Lower Marsh and purchased a slab of vinyl for £3.
As with every purchase I have ever made in this fine establishment it is in great condition, a beautiful performance and generally excellent in every way. I now have Richard Strauss to explore.
Come to think of it maybe it's the Strauss that accounts for the terrible bout of melancholia that seems to be sweeping through my life these last few days. The Germans are fantastic at moaning.
But I have one and a half days off coming up. Perhaps a good dose of Finn and family will sort my black-clouded head out. (Or maybe I'm just missing the football?)
Anyway. Youtube. Gramophone. Strauss. Enjoy...
Friday, August 01, 2008
'In the same way, Burchill is a professional noise, a comic turn of the old Les Dawson sort but without the linguistic invention, the observation and the jokes.'
C'mon Michael, tell us what you really think! (His Big Babies book from last year is great)
Anyway, it's the weekend. Here's some pop music I liked this week. She's Norwegian...