This is how the story goes. Someone we know was in London for a couple of days for a conference of sorts. We met over dinner one day and caught up with all the gossips and news and such. Later when they were back to their own place of residence, they gave us a call to check with us if we would be able to return something that they bought from a bookshop in Soho. Mr M and I enjoying being in bookshops. We always go and check out what’s new in Waterstones/Foyles or even those small bookshops that look like Ollivanders from Harry Potter. We agreed and they sent us the item. First and foremost, we knew just by looking at the courier cover that it wasn’t a book. If it wasn’t, then we wondered how on earth did they get that in a bookshop. To clarify some more, it was an adult ‘toy’. Now that left us baffled. The receipt that was attached points to a bookshop, sure. Since neither of us has been to that area before we took the help of Google Maps (where would I be outside India without the aid of these maps) and went around one Saturday afternoon.
The board outside the shop did say ‘Soho Original Bookshop’. Alright, that’s perfect. Looked quite old enough too. We didn’t see any signs of it being a licensed adult store or anything or maybe we failed to notice it if there was any. Now imagine, if this was indeed a bookstore how embarrassing would it be to check with them if the receipt of an adult toy sale belonged to them. We were quite sceptical. Did we have a choice? No. So we both went in and it all became clear. I am sure that there were some books somewhere there, but it was primarily an adult store. Nothing wrong with that. There are more than one in that area and they have signs and all. What I couldn’t comprehend was why to call them ‘…Original Bookshop’, when it wasn’t just that. I am still going with the assumption that they had some in the basement or upstairs (I saw the stairs…just not sure if it led down or up or both)
I kept pestering Mr M about the name of the shop. I couldn’t get it out of my head. How am I supposed to know which bookshop is just a ‘book’ shop and which one isn’t? Why go with a store name that doesn’t serve the purpose of the items being sold. Don’t the adult licensed shops also sell books related to it? I get so confused by these things. The pattern goes awry in such cases unless you know the place and the history and such. If I was a tourist and ended up there thinking that it is a bookshop, I would have been embarrassed and flustered more than anything else at least until the curiosity gets the better of me 😉
A few weeks later, we were walking through the Euston station road from Drummond Street. Just opposite the bus stop, there was a ‘Gentleman’s Club’. Now, this I know a little bit from the stories I have read. The store next to this is called ‘Euston Bookshop’. Now again, this doesn’t look like any bookshop. Why? because it is covered with a curtain and the only window that is present is tinted. I almost asked Mr M to go over there while we were waiting for the bus, but one closer look and my jaw dropped again. Mr M also thought that it might not be an actual bookshop. Again, why this cloak and dagger thing? Why not just name something for what it is. It is not as if it makes any difference to people here. A couple of folks who walked past were peering through the tinted window and were having fun. I would have done the same thing. It is our natural curiosity. The only reason we thought for people to use the term bookshop in their store titles might be related to some regulations in some areas, even though that is stretching it a bit too far. At least that might make a little bit sense. People always baffle me. At least I got a good story out of this, one I will remember to tell for a long time 😉