As part of a special indiebookcrawl for IBW14, an important and not to be missed book emporium is the wonderful Goldsboro books in Cecil Court, London. For this is no ordinary book emporium for it is rather like a castle of books tucked away in a medieval alley way in London –
It is reached by stepping back in time, both literally and figuratively, since the store is located half way down an alley where the hustle and bustle of nearby charring Cross Road seems to well, just disappear.
Passing shop fronts that wouldn’t look out of place in a Charles Dickens scene, the signs hanging outside each one announced what each store contained – shouts of ‘ rare’ ‘ special’ and ‘first editions’ littered the air. If you want to buy history then you have come to the right place. If you want to buy a special piece of literary history then you have definitely come to the right place!
One of the gentlemen to work in such a literary emporium is Harry – not he of the Royal Palace association but the well -known royal literary figure known as Lord Harry of Goldsboro
He walked round the book kingdom and introduced me to all of his subjects one by one. Unlike most royal figures, he knew each one personally and told me of their worth and of their standing in the kingdom. There were a group of book subjects all huddled together in the corner behind a glass case – these were the criminal gang he said and so had to be locked up for their own safety. but if I wanted to meet with them then I could..
So I met David Hewson in the House of Dolls (was this a reference to the houses within a royal gaol ? That I did not know) Val McDermid and Iain Gale….
Then I was introduced to what I can only assume as a royal parade – all of the subjects were lined up in readiness to greet me Harry of Goldsboro said. All of them first editions? (first timers I can only assume, you don’t like to ask)
And then I met the subject I had come to see. I handed over the bond, and then I took the hands of Laurel, Dorothy, Jimmy and Vivien and left the Goldsboro castle. Kate Morton and her characters were going on a journey to their new home – that of a special friend and book collector.
As the door to times gone by danced its merry jig bringing me back to the present day, I stepped out into the alleyway and almost bumped into a well dressed gentleman ambling by the shop.
He turned towards me and before I had the chance to apologise, he raised his hat and winked. Stunned, I stood motionless between him and the Goldsboro window – for now I was looking into the eyes of Charles Dickens himself. And beside him, another smartly dressed gentleman I recognised as Wilkie Collins.
Mr Collins looked at me as if I was some sort of curiosity Moments passed before I realised that this was an experience that no one would believe when I told them later.
I stuttered in my attempts to ask for a photograph. They looked at me in confusion – photos were around then I was sure – I’ve seen picture of them both after all. But when I took my camera phone from my pocket, Mr Dickens looked aghast.
I did indeed take a picture and after a rather confused Wilkie Collins chatting in horror with Dickens as to what on earth that contraption was’, ‘I Phone dear?’Can’t she talk properly? She’s talking as if she were the phone! Apple? Now I think she’s the one to have take a little landanum – and they talk about me!
I left them both, bewildered to saunter back along Cecil Court.
Later, back in my rooms, I placed my literary book treasure on the table and took my phone out to see my other unexpected find
but there was no -one there
All I got was the street.
And a memorable visit to the bookish lair that is Goldsboro books – an experience that I shall never forget