Scratching my own funny bone for shits and giggles. Lampooning books, music and being a single woman over 40. Recording observations with an almost Seinfeldian obsession for the minutiae of life. Things can get sweary around here. You understand.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CHARING CROSS


Just been shopping for second hand books to fill the last of the empty spaces in my three new floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and in the process found myself in Charing Cross Books in Annerley. What I saw broke my heart. It was absolute mayhem. The passageways were narrow, the books thick with dust and the floor haphazardly littered with boxes of books sadly waiting for categorising...and whilst there was seemingly no attempt to make it easy to find anything I could tell there were some absolute gems to be discovered. Problem was the poor lighting and disarray filled me with such trepidation that I didn't get past the first two shelves in the doorway. Perched in a dark corner at the front of the shop, hidden behind a mountain of books was this darling elderly gent with these sad, kind blue eyes listening to 4BC. Luckily I stumbled upon a book near the entry about the scandalous history of one of Brisbane's most famous families (the Maynes) and enquired as to whether this was the same family buried in the mausoleum on top of Toowong cemetery. Well that set him off with a million fascinating stories. He was quite the raconteur though I couldn't help but be distracted with my own sadness at the state of his wonderful collection. Honestly the man was sitting on a farking fortune worth of books but only the brave would wander past the entry. Soon we were talking about the demise of the Chardons Corner Hotel (diagonally opposite the shop) and he was inviting me to the back of the store to show me a painting of it. He struggled to pull it out from where it was wedged and in the process we were both rained down on by an avalanche of books. He was so damned pleased that I was interested in his stories that it was difficult to leave. Now that I'm home all I can think about is getting in there and cleaning the place up. It was an absolute tragedy to see it in the state it was in. How do you volunteer for such a thing without causing offence?

14 comments:

Jyggdrasil said...

I know that shop. Of course the version I know is located in the Northern beaches of SYD, but its the same bloody shop.

YsambartCourtin said...

Great shop. My bro lived 3 minutes walk away. That is near the street where they filmed the scene where they cut the Queenslander (House) in half when they filmed "Felafel".

How would I ask? I'd just ask him. He is a great old duffer. I didn't know that the pub had gone. Understandable. Although it was one of the classic old school pubs where you used to look in, and think 'I need a stab proof ballistic vest for this place.' In the ninties to early naughties one of the guys at the drive-thru had a roaring trade in substances other than beer tho...

NATALIA THE RUSSIAN SPY said...

BART: Oh it's still there. That ugly turd-yellow brick thing. Before that was a gothic-styled hotel with turrets and all. Did your brother live with Dirk? Last time I blogged about that part of the world he told me he lived just down the road.

J: Ah so the messy pack-rat bookshop owner thing isn't unique then?

Nautilus said...

Sounds like Black Books!!! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Books

I wouldn't volunteer, just go in and chat to him. While chatting just start sorting things out. He will be so happy chatting he probably won't even notice what you are doing.

YsambartCourtin said...

Black books is airy, light and spacious compared to this. I had to walk sideways whenever I went in there, every single step.

YsambartCourtin said...

And no, my brother didn't live with Dirk.

Flinthart said...

Nah. I'm sure I never lived with one of Bart's brothers. That would have just been too much coincidence to handle.

But... I love bookstores like that. And if you really want to clean it up, offer him a trade. Tell him your horribly broke, and ask if he'll swap some sorting and shelving for some carefully selected reading matter.

bangarrr said...

Just offer him a hand Nat, Mcleod's books, formerly in Box Hill now in Nunawading is the same. The second hand book shop in Boronia is gone unfortunately, they had their books listed on computer database, absolutely brilliant

Big Bad Al said...

Probably pick up some good bargains there as well. I'm with Naut distract him by talking to him.

Had one up here run by a little old lady (His wife maybe?). Used to go for a rummage through it now and then. Sadly it closed a couple of years ago.

There was also a similar one in the City near The American Book Store. Gone as well.

Barnesm said...

Yeah, but they'd all fit onto a Kindle2 wouldn't they?

Anonymous said...

You could ask him if you could help him "around the shop ... tidying up ... cataloging, etc ... in return for a modest discount, of course."

As the Mars family says, "A shared benefit will endure."

Abe

Steve said...

I like Dirk and Abe's ideas. Barter with him. Like how I get a free haircut once a year, in return for bringing my barber some hard to find out of state beer.

NowhereBob said...

I lived 3 doors downhill from that shop with a a couple of critical mass cyclists. Ahh squallid single man days.
We used to walk up to the Chardons Cnr Hotel drive through & buy tallies of Mercury for $4 or something similarly outrageously cheap. Only ever went into the front bar once - I needed to buy a lighter & everywhere else was closed. Real scary place - not just blue collar, stained brown & torn collar with the blood of yesterdays fight on the front.
Did you hear about the clowns who tried to "Stick Up" the joint? the rum soaked regulars took umbrage and pummeled the stuffing out of 2 armed robbers & went outside & chased down the getaway car driver.

NowhereBob said...

Did anyone else pick up that he specialises in "Queenslandiana."
Holy Crap.

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