In the larger town where I grew up there was a larger bookshop, which remained stolidly family-owned as the corporate chains were tightening their pythonesque grip on townscapes everywhere. The shelves were made of dark old oak, and the mildly ornate staircase matched them in wholesome solidity. It creaked slightly and occasionally when submitting to its pedestrian duty, just to remind you that it wasn’t born yesterday. Best of all, it smelt like a bookshop.
I spent a lot of time in there for most of my childhood and much of my adult life, rarely having the money to buy anything but still enthralled by a seemingly endless perusal of the titles and the other worlds they represented. The fact is, I simply liked being there. It’s gone now and been turned into offices.
Nobody ever feels alone in a bookshop, wrote Penelope Fitzgerald. Did anyone ever say that of an office?