Monday, January 2nd 2017
So this is AD 2017. So far it looks very much like the late – and for many of us, unlamented – 2016. Will this year bring a change of fortune and usher in a new and better world with better and more understanding and humane people to direct the affairs of nations? Probably not. I think the adage that applies is ‘Hope for the best but prepare for the worst’.
This evening we popped down to Soho for a stroll and to look for supper. This is Ed’s Easy Diner on the corner of Moor Street and Old Compton Street. It was all lit up but that is not where we supped. That was at Bistro 1 in Frith Street, though I didn’t think to take a photo of it.
Afterwards we walked into Charing Cross Road to view the new premises of one of its most famous inhabitants.
I speak, of course, of Foyles1 Bookshop. Foyles began in 1903 and moved to Charing Cross Road, on its corner with Manette Street, in 1906. There it remained, apparently immovable, until 2011. Between 1945 and her death in 1999, Christina Foyle was in charge of the bookshop. Its idiosyncratic and old-fashioned modus operandi became legendary and Foyles became an institution that book lovers both loved and hated but could not do without.
Things changed in 1999. The shop and its operating procedures were modernized to the general satisfaction. Then, in 2011, the unthinkable happened: it was announced that Foyles was to move to new premises! And move it did, all the way from 135 Charing Cross Road to 107 Charing Cross Road. You are hardly likely not to find it.
We went in to take a look. If you ever thought that electronic books were the future and that books made from dead trees were heading for extinction, visit Foyles and think again. I cannot find adequate adjectives to describe the modern Foyles. You just have to go in and see for yourself. Everything you ever dreamed of to do with books is found here and much you would never have thought of. Foyles is, more than ever, the bookshop you cannot do without.
1There should clearly be an apostrophe in there somewhere but no one ever puts one so who am I to play the pedant?