In which I nipped up to London, bumped into George Bernard Shaw in Mevagissey, listened to a £250,000 loudspeaker and fell in love with bits of paper.

Hurley Books has had to take a bit of a back seat whilst we launched our holiday lets business, Dreaming Of Cornwall,  unfortunately the season waits for no man and suddenly we had missed the London Book Fair which I had every intention of going to this year. Anyway the stationery fair beckoned and whilst I’ve never been before, what the hell, we needed to pay some attention to the shop so I jumped onto the night train and slept my way up to London. As ever I woke up to an empty Paddington platform and struggled over to the first class lounge (it is so nice in there and open to all with a sleeper ticket.)

The wonderful Riviera Sleeper
If Leonard Cohen wrote SF

Finally caffeined up and ready to face London proper I headed off to Islington. I got onto the tube and promptly got off at the next stop. I swear I could have lifted both my feet off the floor and I wouldn’t have moved a millimetre, the crush was horrific.  I waited for three more equally press ganged torture chambers to pass and then I got on the fourth, where whilst I didn’t get a seat I could at least catch a breath.

An empty Paddington

The stationery fair was less hand made Italian papers and more salesmen with pen pitches. However, despite the rather business business feel to the place I did find some nice pens and some even nicer handmade paper and journals. Only some of which I thought would work in Mevagissey, so watch this space and see some of the lovely stuff we have ordered coming into the shop.

 

Much lushness

 

Much, much.

I got into a lovely conversation with a chap from Charfleet Book Bindery,  who recommended I visit Maison Assouline, an apparently remarkable bookshop, a not to be missed bookshop. Now I’ll be honest as I nodded my head and smiled enthusiatically, I was going to skip it and head straight to the V&A where I could drop the thirty thousand bags that the sales reps had laid me down with. Oh the weight! My shoulders and feet were killing me and for two pins I’d have just gone home. But you know the old prayer “I may only pass this way but once…”* So I decided to head off in search of this not to be missed bookshop. Could I just say, if you are in London, do go and visit, it really isn’t to be missed.

* Seems it was more a “Be nice” motto than a “Carpe Diem” one.

First off Maison Assouline is not a bookshop where you are likely to make a purchase unless it is one of their amazing cocktails from the large mahogany bar in the corner. The building was designed by Lutyens and from floor to ceiling the shelves are lined with folio signed art books; beyond glorious. The porter, yes porter, took my many bags from me, welcomed me and encouraged me to wander around.  I nosed about a bit and found an oak spiral staircase in the corner and climber up to a small bindery on the mezzanine floor, I wandered through oak corridors and found a room stuffed with antiques to furnish my own library with;astrolabes, zebra pelts, plinths but what was really calling my attention was the very loud and interesting music coming from another room. I opened the door and realised I had walked into some sort of very private event. There were only three people in a very large book lined room listening to a pair of phenomenal loudspeakers.  Again I was met with friendliness and waved in to browse the shelves but this time I just sat and listened to the rather incredible speakers. The music was loud but there was no bass reverb, no interference, if I had closed my eyes Billie Holiday could have been on the stage in front of me.   Eventually refreshed, I left and asked the staff downstairs what was going on. Apparently the speakers cost £250,000.00 (yes, that’s the correct amount of zeros) and are only sold on a private word of mouth basis via private audiences, and I gatecrashed one 🙂 If you are tempted they are called YAR and whilst I’m not sure if anything is worth that much money I would say that if you would consider that an acceptable price for speakers then these were pretty decent!

 

Maison Assouline
Oh to have this sort of space
Maison Assouline
Tucked away bindery 🙂

 

 

 Hand built YAR Speakers. Amazing sound.

Finally I made it to the V&A and made straight for the cloakroom where I dumped my oh too heavy bags and relaxed in the sunshine drinking a fresh lemonade. Then headed to the Underwear exhibition that turned out to be poorly curated and overpriced, that’s twice now, not impressed, but there was one little highlight. Behind one of the look don’t touch, don’t sketch, don’t photograph, don’t breathe cabinets was a picture of a chap in Jaeger longjohns with hat and parasol. Turned out to be George Bernard Shaw on the beach at Mevagissey!

Very cute but lacking some practical elements.
Maybe wear this over the top?
An oasis of calm.

And with a smile on my face I donned my metaphorical longjohns and headed back home.

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