Incredible scanning electron micrograph of an exposed axon terminal, loaded with synaptic vesicles (orange and blue).
Image Credit: Tina Carvalho
Far from feeling lonely or abandoned, I feel very much a part of what is taking place on the lunar surface. I know that I would be a liar or a fool if I said that I have the best of the three Apollo 11 seats, but I can say with truth and equanimity that I am perfectly satisfied with the one I have. This venture has been structured for three men, and I consider my third to be as necessary as either of the other two. I don’t mean to deny a feeling of solitude. It is there, reinforced by the fact that radio contact with the Earth abruptly cuts off at the instant I disappear behind the moon, I am alone now, truly alone, and absolutely isolated from any known life. I am it. If a count were taken, the score would be three billion plus two over on the other side of the moon, and one plus God knows what on this side.
Today I rediscovered a 9 gram silver 1924 Soviet coin that was given to me during my stay in Tajikistan. I thought I had lost it forever!
This amazing model of London can be found at The Building Centre on Store Street.
Spent this evening watching two Laurel and Hardy classics, Thicker Than Water and Come Clean, with my dad as we peeled potatoes together.
The Chimp (1932)
The old Foyles at 113-119 Charing Cross Road.
So Foyles, which was one of my favourite shops, has moved from its beautiful, higgledy-piggledy, eccentric, old building at 113-119 Charing Cross Road, to a brand new redevelopment of the St. Martin’s Art School at 107 Charing Cross Road, only a few doors down.
In doing so they have killed all traces of the rich soul the old store had.
The small jazz cafe, often quite nicely crowded, with its views of the street (just high enough to see the tops of the buses), bulky wooden furniture and brilliant live music is no more. Instead we’re given just another coffee shop number: over-sanitised, brightly lit, and empty. It would be more in place at Heathrow Duty-Free than Soho. The view is of a grubby courtyard at the back of the shop. The decoration makes a shoddy attempt to reference its forebear, but the identical wooden tables neatly spaced on the white tiled floor just makes it all the more obvious how much has changed. The old cafe was a place you could quite happily spend an afternoon sampling books, chatting with friends or just taking in the atmosphere. It was something to look forward to after work, and seemed to sum up in one small room all the reasons why I love London. The new cafe is something you want to get away from as fast as possible, and leaves you in a bitter, disappointed mood; certainly not good for looking at books.
And when I spend all of ten minutes looking at books I nearly broke down in a fit of rage a la Planet of the Apes:
"You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"
Looking for books in Foyles used to be a pleasant experience. The layout of the shop, with its maze-like corridors and side rooms, meant you often stumbled upon plenty of interesting subjects whilst trying to find what you had in mind. Walking around the shop was almost surreal, it sometimes felt like a labyrinth constructed entirely of books. You walked up a few steps here, went down a ramp there, and every available space was packed with books seducing your attention.
Now every floor is IDENTICAL. Even the layout of the shelves is just copy-and-pasted from one floor to the next. You can’t tell whether you’re in poetry or cookery, and frankly, you just don’t care. You would never stumble across anything outside of what you went in to look for. The whole system is built around the idea that everybody coming into the shop knows exactly what they want to buy, the layout is such that they will find this book in the minimum amount of time, and be able to pay for it and leave with minimum inconvenience.
To me, this is not and never has been the point of a bookshop. They’re meant to be places you accidentally spend hours in, enticed into unknown corners, feeling like an explorer as you weave between the shelves. You shouldn’t go to a bookshop to buy a book. You should go because, well, books!
Foyles seems to have forgotten this, and everything that made their old shop so great, one of the London must-visits. They have sacrificed all that they had to build just another department store or supermarket, but one that just so happens to specialise in books.
I couldn’t be more disappointed.
Woody Allen on Candid Camera, one of the funniest things I’ve watched in a long time.