Friday, February 27, 2009

Fathers - Get Reading...

Most fathers are too busy to read stories to their children?

Fathers - you don't know what you're missing. I love reading to Finn. Last night we read Where The Wild Things Are for about the millionth time. Does it get boring? Never. The look on his face when you turn the final page and say "...and it was still hot" is worth a week of overtime.

There's a special song I invented for the Rich Man and the Shoemaker that I've noticed him singing when he's by himself. I just love the time reading gives us together - both concentrating on the same thing, sitting together...priceless.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

'you can read it with one hand'

Sunday, February 22, 2009


If I didn't already love this little machine enough already, I've found this application called 'Brushes' for it where you can paint using your finger directly onto a blank screen or a photo you've taken. The sheer childlike delight in this I can barely convey. It costs £2.99 from the itunes app store.

Here are a few of my first extremely poor efforts. This first one, I call 'Ready Brek Parliament':

'Friday Night Wine':

'Half a Pooh, Dissected, In Blue':

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What's In A Name?

I was thrilled to discover my cousin Sam's jazz CD Howeird was given 4/5 stars in the Guardian. I rushed down to the paper shop and showed the bloke in there and he gave me the paper for free. Then I noticed how they spelt his name. Sam Crockett. Maybe you didn't notice the frankly GLARING error. Sam Crockett? Who he? It's Crockatt people, A T T.

I phoned a mate who I'd given the CD to recently and he laughed.

"The trouble you face with your name is that American bloke got there first and he's more famous than you."

"Eh? What American bloke?"

"Davy man..."

All my life that raccoon skinning, bear shooting American folk "hero" has been a thorn in my side. I have a large family. There are a lot of Crockatts about and we travel. There are Crockatts all over the world. And we're going to breed and breed and breed and keep on producing brilliant jazz cds and brilliant bookshops and all sorts of other brilliant stuff and we're not going to stop until everyone knows how to spell the name ok...

(Maybe I've been watching too many episodes of the Wire)

Incidentally I'm still reading Roberto Bolano's 2666. I've nearly finished. But I'm taking it slow, savouring every morsel. One of the main characters is a writer who names himself Benno von Archimboldi. When he first meets the man who becomes his publisher the following exchange takes place - it's too long to quote in full but it's very funny and starts like this...

"What's your real name? Because it can't be the name you've given me, of course."

"That's my name," answered Archimboldi.

"Do you think the years I spent in England or the years in general have made me stupid? No one has a name like that. Benno von Archimboldi. To be called Benno, in the first place, is suspicious."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

You can write this on my grave stone

Every good bookseller is a multiple-personality, containing all the extremes of human feeling. He is an ascetic hermit, he is an erotic immoralist, he is a Papist, he is a Quaker, he is a communist, he is an anarchist, he is a savage iconoclast, he is a passionate worshipper of idols. Though books, as Milton says, may be the embalming of mighty spirits, they are also the resurrection of rebellious, reactionary, fantastical and wicked spirits! In books dwell all the demons and all the angels of the human mind.

John Cowper Powys

So far I have watched one episode of the Wire...

...because we in Camberwell watch very little TV and there's Masterchef and University Challenge to contend with. Last night saw the return of Corpus Christi and the awesome Trimble. That lady knows it all. To say she was clever would not do her justice. She is a FREAK GEEK of the highest order.
"Jane and Charles; William and Charlotte; Lydia and George and Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam all..." that was as far as Paxman got before the awesome Trimble buzzed in and said "Pride and Prejudice".

My wife and I glanced at each other open mouthed. I'm usually ok on the book questions. The members of the Cambridge team in opposition knew what was coming and despite a brave challenge were soundly thrashed by Trimble and her mates.

The Internet does what it does best by revealing some fevered discussion over Trimble. Is she a sex God dominatrix? Or a spoddy twit? I even came across one site called The Long Hair Community where her locks were admired by fellow long hairs...(There are people out there who log sightings of impressively long haired people. Weird? Oh YES.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

That's Love

Atlas by U A Fanthorpe

There is a kind of love called maintenance,
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it;

Which checks the insurance, and doesn’t forget
The milkman; which remembers to plant bulbs;

Which answers letters; which knows the way
The money goes, which deals with dentists

And Road Fund Tax and meeting trains,
And postcards to the lonely; which upholds

The permanently rickety elaborate
Structures of living; which is Atlas.

And maintenance is the sensible side of love,
Which knows what time and weather are doing
To my brickwork; insulates my faulty wiring;
Laughs at my dryrotten jokes; remembers
My need for gloss and grouting; which keeps
My suspect edifice upright in the air,
As Atlas did the sky.

Dedicated to the many people I love without whom my life would be total chaos and misery...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Where is my mind?

No not my brain, that is there on the floor.

(I phone a woman to say her book has come in. A man answers. I give the "your book is in spiel" He says "She's just coming" Since my brain is on the floor I assume she has psychic powers and is already on her way in to collect the book. "Ok thanks" I say and hang up. Only then do I realise he meant she was on her way to the phone. I phone back.)

The new LRB arrives and there is an article titled Where Is My Mind in which a PHILOSOPHER (Sweeeet Bejaysus we are doomed) argues that his I-Phone is now a part of his mind. If this was in Wire I would scoff. But the LRB? These are folk that think. And worst of all read.

Meanwhile here are the Pixies - the first band I ever saw live...

*Please excuse the lame dog video and listen to the music*

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Some lunchtime suggestions

Mmmmmmm. Tasty food ideas, here!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


/lun-don-truh-pi/ noun Physics
A quantity expressing how much of a person's mental energy is 
unnavailable for conversion into mechanical work in inverse proportion 
to the amount of time between trips out of the capital.

On the Radio

Haven't linked to David Byrne's monthly radio show for a while. This month is Japanese month. It's brilliant!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kreutzer Sonata

Tolstoy was a great writer but boy did he have some strange ideas. A while ago I read a book called The Last Station by Jay Parini. The novel was about the final year of Tolstoy's life and revolved, to a large degree, around the difficulties between Tolstoy and his wife Sofya. At that point in his life Tolstoy was venerated in Russia, treated as a saintly figure by peasants and the upper classes alike. He lived, surrounded by Tolstoyan acolytes, in some luxury with his wife and family. This life of luxury went completely against the ideas of simplicity etc that Tolstoy preached to everyone else. He was also convinced that sexual abstinence was essential to the good life. This was again too much for his long suffering wife who knew all too well about Tolstoy's debauched youth and probably a thing or two about what he was up to in later life as well...

Anyway, I've just about finished the Kreutzer Sonata now and despite Tolstoy's weirdness the story/novella is yet another reminder of why I love Russian literature SO much.

(Incidentally it looks as though the Last Station is to be made into a film with Helen Mirren as Sofya - bound to be shite of course!)

When suddenly johnny gets the feeling hes being surrounded by

Take all of your arguments against the inevitability of e-books and substitute the word "horse" for "book" and the word "car" for "e-book." Here are a few examples to whet your appetite for the (really) inevitable debate in the discussion section at the end of this article.

"Books will never go away." True! Horses have not gone away either.

"Books have advantages over e-books that will never be overcome." True! Horses can travel over rough terrain that no car can navigate. Paved roads don't go everywhere, nor should they.

"Books provide sensory/sentimental/sensual experiences that e-books can't match." True! Cars just can't match the experience of caring for and riding a horse: the smells, the textures, the sensations, the companionship with another living being.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Did you ride a horse to work today? I didn't. I'm sure plenty of people swore they would never ride in or operate a "horseless carriage"—and they never did! And then they died.

Long article but worth the read.

I don't think it's going to come from the spindleblossom but I'm sure those dastardly geniuses at Apple are coming up with something for the itunes store...

I have to say and I know Matthew hates it, but I read more on my iphone than most anywhere else and the more I do it the more reading on a little screen doesn't bother me... AND I OWN A BOOKSHOP AND LOVE BOOKS!

Horses, horses, horses, horses
Coming in in all directions
White shining silver studs with their nose in flames,
He saw horses, horses, horses, horses, horses, horses, horses, horses.

So what the hell are we doing perservering with this bookshop nonsense? This anachronism? Well, it's a nice place to come to work everyday innit. Plus, as crazy as it may seem, I guess we're almost professional booksellers by now. We get to do the filtering, the sifting, the looking at all the interesting things that the punters don't have time to do. Then when we present all these lovely things in our lovely shop they can come in and say things like, "what a great selection you have" and we say "why, thank you". 

And then, in the very near future, they can go to the caff down the road and download what they've seen straight to their iphone in 30 seconds.

When suddenly johnny gets the feeling hes being surrounded by
Horses, horses, horses, horses
Coming in in all directions
White shining silver studs with their nose in flames,
He saw horses, horses, horses, horses, horses, horses, horses, horses.

Monday, February 09, 2009

“Our vision is every book, ever printed, in any language , all available in less than 60 seconds,”

The spindle 2.0

Just A Moment...

A jazz drummer is tapping, tss, ba dam! testing the limits of the known world, a blind man's stick, finding the edge, feeling the void as it opens beneath him and then quick! quick! just a quick step back, a snare snap back to balance on the edge once again.

The jazz is on the radio and the rest of the band are back. There are horns calling and a bass beneath, we're back in the womb and it's ok, though it might be raining in the street outside we're alright in here, where the coffee machine is warm and the music cool, where I can listen to Italian voices and jazz on the radio.

And I can stand, feeling the warmth of the venerable machine through my plastic armoured biker jacket, remembering Coltrane in 1961, from youtube last night, a 21st century memory of an event I never witnessed, and hear us clapping together at the end of the ten minutes or so of a man finding the edge and dancing along it with his saxophone in both hands, breathing such music into life...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Think laterally, think creative!

This is from a great Seth Godin post:

Creativity loves a problem, but it hates a lousy audience.

If everyone around you is sure the economy is tanking, that the end is near, that time is up and the company is headed for the tubes, it's almost impossible to find a creative solution.

Creativity changes the game, whatever game is being played. "We're going to run out of cash by the end of the year," is accurate unless you count creativity into the equation. Then the accurate statement is, "Under the current rules and assumptions, we're going to run out of cash..." Big difference.

Creativity demands exposure to market needs, and insulation from market fears. Give it some time to work, some support, some breathing room. That's when creativity has a chance to change the game.

So, C&P have been getting creative in these tough times and Matthew and I are happy to announce that as of monday we're going into the pornography and narcotics business. We've got basements folks and we're not afraid to use 'em...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Larry David VS Richard Yates

Larry David once dated Richard Yates's daughter.

This scene from Seinfeld is based on those experiences...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Add a little poetry to your day?

Maybe poetry will save us after all. Maybe it already has?

Snow Day!

Westminster Bridge and St James's Park. It were right lovely.