Talking shop

An interesting story in the Grauniad about a new bookshop opened near the British Museum by Alan Bennett and the board of the London Review of Books. Called the London Review Bookshop, it claims to cater for the discerning book-buyer, who is apparently neglected by the vulgar “pile ’em high” shops like Books etc, Borders and Waterstones. Bennett says, “Just as the supermarket takes the pleasure out of shopping, so it does out of buying books.” I really like Alan Bennett, and I’m sure the bookshop is a good one – I mean, any bookshop has got to be a good one at the end of the day – but I have to disagree with this comment about supermarkets. Most supermarkets, I agree, are nasty places, especially the cheap and nasty ones, but I have to confess to a longstanding love affair with my local branch of Waitrose. The lighting is subtle, the products are well-chosen, the prices aren’t the cheapest but the quality is really high, the staff are excellent, and I know where everything is. In any case, the pleasure or otherwise of shopping always depends for me on who I’m shopping with. In other words, unless I’m on my own, it’s a pain in the arse.