You never know what you might find…

Cover of "Indiana Jones and the Raiders o...

Cover via Amazon

There can’t be too many people in the world who haven’t seen the film Raiders of the Lost Ark. There’s a lot to like about it. It’s one of my favourite films of all time. One of the best scenes, if not a little depressing, is the scene at the end where the US government locks away the precious Ark of the Covenant in a warehouse along with many other treasures and antiquities.

It’s depressing because I can imagine some misguided government doing that just to keep the status quo. I mean the last thing that any government wants is radical change and the moral and ethical questions around a hotline to the supreme being are enough to make any politician’s toes curl. The warehouse reminds me of something else, however, my favourite book store.

When I go into a high street book store, I tend to follow exactly the same pattern every time. I’ll go and have a look at the Science Fiction section and then I naturally progress to the Fantasy section as it’s usually right next door. I always take a gander at the graphic novels, just in case there’s anything there that tickles my fancy. Because of my profession, I have a little look at the computer section and the books that tell you how to be a good manager.

Because of my routine, I am seldom surprised, and it’s rare that I buy anything. I’ve read pretty much everything I want to read in those sections and the pace at which new books are published means that I have many fruitless visits to the book store.

My favourite bookstore, however, is totally different. It is just like the Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse – a massive building containing many fine treasures. Why do I like it so much? Anyone with OCD who entered the building would have a nightmare as if there is any kind of organisation of the books inside, I certainly don’t know the rules of what goes where.

But it is precisely this disorganised nature of storing books that I like, because I can’t just go to the sections I like. I’m forced to browse through books I wouldn’t even dream of looking at normally. Of course, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a princess, but I nearly always come away with some books to read, unlike when I visit the high street book stores. Not only that, but the books are heavily discounted too.

The name of this house of treasures is “Books 66” and if you have one nearby, it’s well worth a visit.


Whatever happened to my treasured possessions?


Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. ...

Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. With Illustrations by John Leech. London: Chapman & Hall, 1843. First edition. Title page. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Owing to a recent rodent induced flood (don’t ask), we have had cause to reassess the value of lots our belongings in the Bailey household. Many items have slid down the treasured possession scale from “don’t throw away under any circumstances” to “discardable tat” with frightening speed. Thanks to the household insurance, almost everything can be replaced. What surprised me was how distinctly unattached I felt to all of my possessions – they’re just easily replaceable things.

It never used to be that way. When I was growing up, everything I owned was almost sacred. I had a massive collection of plastic soldiers which I played with endlessly. Rain, wind or shine, I would be out in the garden digging bunkers and conducting world war across the lawn. I was obsessed by World War II and I had a big boxful of Commando comics which I read over and over.

Whilst these were important to me at the time, they paled into insignificance compared to two hard backed books.

The first was a ladybird book called “In the train with Uncle Mac”. I don’t know where it came from and it was well-worn by the time it came into my possession. It was the story of a journey on a steam train with a kindly uncle. I read the book incessantly. So much so, that it started to fall to bits. As a young boy, I liked all kinds of machines, but especially trains. Time after time, mum had to perform running repairs with Sellotape just to keep it in one piece. By the time she finished, there was more Sellotape than book.

The second was a similarly sized hard backed book with a plain dark red cover. It had no dust cover and at some point in its life, it had been in the wrong place during some decorating and white paint flecked the front of the book. It was presented to me by my uncle Martin. I could tell by the solemnity of the way he gave me the book that he was handing over a precious heirloom. It was a copy of a Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

With gravity, he told me that the book I held in my hands was his favourite story ever. He then read it to me. I can’t say that it converted me to being a Charles Dickens fan, but the moment possessed a certain magic all the same.

I feel guilty that I no longer have either of these books and for the life of me, I have no idea what happened to them. I could buy another copy of both these books to replace the ones that I’ve lost over the years, but somehow it just wouldn’t be the same.