London, Day 2, Afternoon: Booking it to the bookshops

A very long time ago, when I lived in London, I had a temp job in the IT department at the UK headquarters of what was then Ernst & Whinney.

I walked over this bridge twice a day during the work week.

I was at E&W because the company was switching from Wangs to PCs (I told you it was a long time ago) and needed help helping their staff with the transition.

And so they sent me to Foyles Bookshop to find some books that would help the IT department figure out the whole thing.

I couldn’t believe I got paid to spend the entire morning in one of the world’s greatest bookshops, looking at books.

Hello my dear, you haven’t changed one bit

I was so very and entirely happy to see it again, looking exactly as it did cough-cough! years ago.

Foyle’s is bookshop, mind you, not a book store. Apparently “over there” there are places to store books and places to shop for books, and they are not the same place.

Foyle’s is rightly famous. Still on Charing Cross Road, still independent, still owned by the Foyle family, there is no book they can’t find on their bookshelves or, barring that, find somewhere in the world for you.

Because that’s their thing, books. Floors and floors (and basement) of books, and department-ized staff that knows all the books in their departments and can help you find what you’re looking for or recommend something based on your interests.

In addition to books and booky-like things (Foyle’s mug, anyone?), they have, uh, additional items for sale:

Say, you wouldn’t have one of those anatomical models of the Elephant Man, would you?

Foyle’s now has a very bookish cafe on the second floor (which is actually the third floor, but I’m not explaining that to you); why is it that “intellectuals” are still ALWAYS discussing Kierkegard?

Cappucino was £2, which made it almost $4 (what with the fees and markup involved in exchanging dollars for pounds). The espresso at £1.20 seemed like a bargain.

I bought this there:

“The river sweats/Oil and tar/The barges drift/With the turning tide…” Don’t you know it, Paul!

…which I bought because Mr. Scofield made an awesome audio recording of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations” and was a very terrific Charles IV in Kenneth Branagh’s “Henry V” and was a very fine actor and lived a very long life and I liked his work very much.

I tried to, intended to, buy books at Foyle’s, but my brain kept reminding me, “You’re gonna hafta carry them home,” which put the kybosh on all such thoughts and intentions.

However, after further perambulation down the Charing Cross Road I came upon a marvelous-looking place into which I could not help but wander (thank you Mr. Churchill. Sort of).

Cannot…help myself…must…go in

Any Amount of Books is exactly like you’d it expect it to be: two rooms, front and back, and a cellar, and every one of them  full of books to the ceiling.

The owner/clerk was having a conversation with a lady about her wanting a book she had seen in the shop a few days ago, of such and such a topic. Owner/clerk closes one eye and looks at the ceiling for a moment then says, “Ah yes, the one with the purple cover. It’s downstairs in the bookcase next to the landing, on the middle-ish shelf, a little over to the left side.” The woman was delighted in the extreme. She was, however, at that moment encumbered with too many packages to take possession of the tome, so the owner/clerk said he’d put it aside for her. London Yelpers even have something to say about it.

I bought this book there:

Go 'head, try and buy this on Amazon
Go ‘head, try and buy this on Amazon

…which I read in its entirety all the way home on the plane it was so good, and now I plan to write a screenplay about its topic.

After my morning and afternoon bookishness, it was time for the theater.

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Fashion item: slim pants (mostly jeans) tucked into calf- or knee-boots. Very fetching, if you have the shape for it, and so far everyone does.

Except the ones not wearing pants but pantyhose. They absolutely don’t have the shape for it, and it’s a little bit of a wonder why they think wearing less will make them look like they do.

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Why, if there are coffee shops and bakeries every three feet aren’t these people misshapen and pudge-eriffic? The following are my conclusions:

  • They walk more;
  • Their food portions are more reasonably sized.

So far I’ve seen loads of Subways (selling a “Chicken Tikka” sandwich) but only one McDonald’s. It was across from a hospital…

So people stop and have a bit to eat, but it’s a smaller bite (much more reasonably priced, it seemed to me). Snack, shop, eat, coffee, shop. Nice way to spend a day.

Well, it was a nice way to spend my day…

Next:

Day 2, Evening: Theater-going

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