Small Plays About My Day

… tiny true dramas in a Charing Cross Road bookshop

Pulped

Posted on | March 2, 2010 | No Comments

Sprightly elderly chap: You want to watch out. I’m 85 and I’ve got thirteen thousand books.
Emily: That’s quite a collection.
Sprightly elderly chap: Only read half of them.
Emily: It’s good to have something waiting on the shelf.
Sprightly elderly chap: Do you know, I was in a bookshop in Norwich in 1941 and a girl came up to me  with a pile of books, she said “please help me. Oh, please help me.” I said, “What is it?” She said, “These books are going to be pulped, they’re going for the war effort. They’re six pounds each. Please help me save them.” I said, “well, I only get paid three pounds a week, and what am I supposed to do, take them back to barracks?” And I left.
Emily: Oh yes?
Sprightly elderly chap: Do  you know what they were? Piranesi. The complete works. Colour plates, everything.
Emily: Sounds lovely.
Sprightly elderly chap: I’ll say. Know what they’re worth now? A million, easy. I could have had them for six quid.

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  • "In a town like London there are always plenty of not quite certifiable lunatics walking the streets, and they tend to gravitate towards bookshops, because a bookshop is one of the few places where you can hang about for a long time without spending any money."
    George Orwell