Monday, 25 June 2012

Seven things I found out about the new bookshop and one I didn't

1) This is what it looks like inside :

2) All the books are £1 or ten for £9. 
3) This isn't an opening gambit, it's the long term plan. 
4) Despite this, the books aren't at all bad. I think the idea is to sell things that were published a couple of years ago. It's like the TK Maxx of children's bookshops. Except that unlike TK Maxx it doesn't scare me into running off to a monastery.
4) One of the books is called 'Norbert and the Disappearing Eggs'. Here it is: 


5) It has a happy ending
6) It also has cute watercolours:

 7) The owner is a cheeful young man called Connor

I forgot to ask about opening hours. Sorry.

(Updated to say that thanks to Mizhenka we now know it's open 9 to 5-30.)

Saturday, 23 June 2012

We're getting a bookshop. Squeee.

This is the shop next to Hamlet. It was empty for a very long time.

Then Conny-who-reads-this-blog noticed something happening:

If you are curious enough to look through the gap at the foot of the blinds you'll see a children's bookshop taking shape. This is wonderful news. 

Bookshops are thriving in France but they sure as hell aren't here and children's literature has Alice, the Velveteen Rabbit, the Thirteen Clocks, the Wonderful O, Minnow on the Say, the Chimneys of Greene Knowe, 101 Dalmatians, Five Children and It, the Railway Children, the Wouldbegoods, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Pinocchio, Tom Sawyer, Tom's Midnight Garden, the Wolves of Willoughby Chase, the Hobbit, King Solomon's Mines, the Jungle Book, Kim, Stalky & Co, Charlotte's Web, Anne of Green Gables, the Wind in the Willows, the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, the House at Pooh Corner, Shimbleshanks, the Night Train as well as a whole load of stuff for toddlers that I can't remember but am assured is good and whatever it is that kids read these days. I hope they still read Alice.

This kind of gentrification I can take.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

How you notice summer here

A) Invading army of wildflowers:

Sylvan Cottage

B) Tulips watching over seances

North London Spiritualist Church

C) Tulips planted by the Friends

Wray Crescent

D: Endless summer, with cows.

W. Plumb butcher's shop

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Meet your friendly local poisoner.

This is from a 1907 British Medical Journal:

'We have also examined a sample of Setterie's Compound Syrup of Formates, prepared by the British, Pharmacal Company (155, Marlborough; Road, Hornsey Road, N.). This preparation contains formates of sodium, iron, quinine and strychnine in the form of a moderately sweet, and agreeably flavored syrup; the combination will go doubt find favour as a tonic.'

Image thanks to Savage Cats on Flickr

Strychnine? Strychnine? Thomas Neil Cream the Lambeth Poisoner was hung in 1892 for using strychnine, so it's not like people didn't know there were problems with the stuff. 
I'm off to light a candle to the Archangel Raphael in gratitude for the NICE and the FDA. Thank the heavens for bureaucrats.

Perugino, Certosa di Pavia Polyptych (Raphael healing Tobit on the right) 
Wikimedia commons image.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

This is the second post in a row to mention mediums.

The Holloway Arts Festival closed with a talk by A.L. Kennedy at Platform. She turned up looking comfortably uncomfortable, the uncomfortableness of someone who is used to feeling uncomfortable and doesn't mind it any more.

A L Kennedy: author reviews
I copied this photograph from her website. I hope she doesn't mind. It is a good photograph.
I don't know what she's going to be like because I haven't read any of her books.  My bias against novelists that are still alive defeated my bias in favour of people with initials instead of names: E. Nesbit, LBJ, WH Auden, AJ Raffles. I like her face though, and how she wears her hair and have decided that doing a review unprepared is brave rather than incompetent. You may disagree, but it's my blog and I'll dress up shoddiness as el├ín if I want too.

She starts off being funny and talking about stand-up then something shifts and she starts talking about not being able to speak clearly, how bloody difficult it is to stop mumbling, and how once as a child she got so angry that she started shouting and everyone turned round in shock because they didn't expect loudness from her; and she makes me remember being fourteen so clearly that I can see the classroom and hear my own voice shouting out louder than it had been or would be for years and how it should have felt liberating but didn't.

Next time I'm in the Big Green Bookshop I'll buy her latest novel, Blue Book. It's about a fake medium.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

London belonged to them

I found Norman Collins' London Belongs to Me thanks to the wonderful Big Green Bookshop and bought it for its opening sentence: 'There may be other cities that are older. But not many. And there may be one across the Atlantic that is larger.' But not much.'  Collins wrote the book towards the end of the second world war and put a magnificent, partisan love into that line.

I also hoped that in its 700 pages there'd be a mention of the Hornsey Road. I spent four years looking for references to the Mongols with lower odds than that. Did you know that Ghenghis Khan turns up in the Canterbury tales?

Anyway, on page 415 Mr Squales goes 'off to a professional engagement. Right over to Finsbury Park [...] where the North London Spiritualist Club held their meetings'.

Mizhenka photograph

Mr Squales is a conman, who has taken up spiritualism having failed at phrenology, palmistry and astrology. At Finsbury Park he takes on the persona of the Red Indian [sic] 'Mocking Bear', 'gruff, throaty and pregnant with vision' and declares that Hitler will die in 1940.

'Twenty minutes later Mr Squales with a two guinea cheque in his pocket was stepping out in the direction of the Seven Sisters Road.'

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

What happened to the worst street in London.

Walk south down the Hornsey Road, turn right at Seven Sisters and you'll get to Whadcoat Street. 

Looking north from Seven Sisters Road.

Whadcoat Street was Campbell Road and Campbell Road was Campbell Bunk, the Worst Street in North London a slum so wretched that its inhabitants sold the glass from their windows, so unlawful that the police steered clear, so insular that the the children from the next street down would be chased out, so notorious that it was knocked down and renamed. 

It's a dark matter version of a National Trust  property - toxic heritage that gets scrubbed out in the hope that people will forget how to misbehave.  Someone should start serving cream teas there.