Friday, July 25, 2008

Going, going...

It seems that green spaces and black rhinos are not the only endangered things. Second-hand bookstores are quietly disappearing across the UK. I read of this somewhere, and had to restrain myself from weeping openly. For, if you're into books at all, there is no greater joy than stepping into the cool confines of a second-hand bookstore, delighting in the musty whiff of a thousand dog-eared old volumes, and proceeding to crane your neck for the next hour in search of a hidden gem or two. When the admirable Keegan's bookshop in Reading closed down a year ago, I felt genuine anguish given that three fourths of my books hail from there. I remember well the hardbound copy of 'Portnoy's Complaint' for 50 pence, and the terrific Rabbit trilogy by John Updike appealingly offered at a throw-down £1.50. Even in London, the former second-hand book haven at Charing Cross, the part near Leicester Square tube, seems to be shrinking. There are only three or four shops left, thankfully including my favourite, 'Any amount of books' (seen above). If, as foreshadowed by the arrival of twenty-twenty cricket, test cricket dwindles into endangered territory too, I have marked out a shop in Lambeth where I can buy a handgun (which, it seems, are definitely not endangered) to take care of the needful. That said, my recent discovery of the sensationally good 'Blossom book store' in Bangalore has somewhat restored my faith.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Spleen venting

One of the readers of my blog (I am the other one) emailed me the other day to remark on how I seemed to display a uniformly sunny disposition in my jottings. Don' t you have any bile to expend, he queried. Fear not gentle reader, I only refrain from bilious outpourings because I am afraid that once started I will not be able to stop. So let me see, what are some of my least favourite things?

I have to start with something that riles me at every one of my gym visits - troglodytes who occupy pieces of exercise equipment for ages. A 10 second exercise burst, followed by an extended bout of relaxing on the machine, another 10 second burst and so on. I recall having to wait close to 30 minutes for a machine to free up during one visit. I came perilously close to hurling a dumbell in the general direction of the chap's head, only I couldn't lift one more than waist-high.

Ok, now that I have loosened up. House/Techno and most other forms of dance music. Night-clubs. DJs (I mean, who ARE these guys anyway; why do they get paid enormous amounts of money to spin records and mix bad music that they didn't even create themselves?). Mobile phones (although I do own one). Inconsiderate *@##& who use up seats on crowded trains by placing their briefcases on the seats next to them. Friends. I mean the TV show, and all the characters in it (I would love nothing more dearly than to watch a movie where Freddie from the Nightmare on Elm Street movies or Jason from Halloween takes a chainsaw to the occupants of the Friends house). Quentin Tarantino movies. The fact that it is considered cool to like Quentin Tarantino movies. Cars. Talking about car models and makes. Any dish that mixes sweet flavours with sour/spicy/salty ones. Pineapple on pizza (which genius thought of that one?). Pigeons. Spitters. Litter louts. Those who write in library books. Celebrities. Big Brother. Celebrity Big Brother.

Ok, I reckon I'd best turn the tap off now.