Tag Archives: bookshop

iPad sound boost & Vancouver topiary

The food container, prepared as an audio device

The food container, prepared as an audio enhancement device

Two years ago, my eternally-un-named friend came up with the ultimate mouse-catcher involving a bowl of water and a wooden ruler – the mice, in effect walked the plank.

This morning, she successfully demonstrated to me the ultimate and cheapest sound-booster for iPads and other electronic notepads.

The new speaker enhanced iPad system

The new speaker-enhanced iPad system in situ

She got a small, round, plastic food container – “They’re about 89p for 4 in Tesco,” she told me – cut a wide slit in it and put it over the corner of the iPad where the sound comes from. I can testify that this does work and I recommend the method highly. If you want similar custom-made sound-boosters, they are available from me at a mere £59.99p.

Meanwhile this blog’s occasional correspondent, Anna Smith, sent me an update headed Topiary Tragedy on what is happening in Vancouver. She works in a book shop. She wrote:


Anna Smith & Gordon Breslin (a visitor from South London who is irrelevant to this piece) hold a copy of dead comedian Malcolm Hardee’s iconic autobiography (also irrelevant to this piece) within a hula hoop in Vancouver two weeks ago.

Anna Smith (left) within a hula hoop in Vancouver recently.

It has been a rough week in this paradise for topiary artists. It seems like half the people I know are being evicted, going crazy or in hospital with multiple issues.

When I arrived at the bookshop on Monday there was a note taped to the door – a pleading request for a list of books from one of my friends in hospital. I don’t know how she managed to get the note there.

There then followed a day of despairing people begging to sell dingy, second-hand books that I could not possibly buy. An artist from Kerala wanted endless information and told me I should start an agency called ‘Ask Anna’ and hire five ‘Annas’. A lonely actor, whom I like and who has schizophrenia, sat in a chair near my desk and spent four hours telling me about all the people he has been in the last few hundred years. He said he knows this is true because a very elegant psychic from Norway told him so. Then a guitarist dropped by to tell me he had spotted his teenage daughter a few days ago – she vanished last month. I could do nothing but listen.

Topiary struck back on Sunday.

One of our most beloved community leaders, 65-year-old Jim Deva, co-owner of our gay bookstore Little Sister’s, died after falling off a ladder. At first, I thought it must have been a ladder in the book shop but no, he had been trimming the bamboo outside of his apartment when he fell.

Canada’s CBC News reports the death of Jim Deva

Canada’s CBC News reports the death of Jim

Little Sister’s bookstore, in its early days, had been bombed at least twice and was the subject of years of harassment from the federal government through Border Services, who diligently opened every single shipment of books from The United States. Eventually the government tried to locate a psychiatrist to support their court case and state that Little Sister’s was importing obscene material. They asked around, looking for someone who was an expert on homosexuality. Everyone told them to ask my dad (who had become a psychiatrist and was one of the first signatories of The American Psychiatric Association’s declaration that homosexuality is not an illness).

So, when they did ask him, he said he would read all the material they had seized but would have to charge them his regular psychiatrist rate.

He spent all his spare time for three months reading all manner of gay literature and porn, then sent the government a bill for around $10,000 and a letter stating that none of the material at Little Sister’s was harmful at all.

Oh, yeah, and the European lesbians texted me from the marina last night. There was a storm and they have no fuel. They want to borrow my tiny butane stove.


I have absolutely no idea what any of that has to do with topiary.

It is perhaps best that some things remain unexplained.

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Filed under Canada, Gay, Inventions

A cage fight, a slap on the buttocks, a silent woman and a trip to Guatemala

Dan March at his Mad Hatter party

Sober Dan March at his party

Last night, I had the choice of paying £35 for a VIP ticket or £25 for a standard ticket to see a cage fight arranged by self-proclaimed ex-gangster Dodgy Dave Courtney in his back garden in South East London or go to comic performer Dan March’s 40th birthday party at the Looking Glass Cocktail Club near trendy Shoreditch (£8 for a double vodka and orange).

It was a tough call but I am glad I went to Shoreditch, though I was unclear if getting into the back room through the looking glass door always entailed getting your buttock slapped with a riding crop or if this was a special addition for the occasion.

Lheila Oberman could not talk to me last night

Lheila Oberman could not talk to me last night

I am glad I went because I bumped into comedy performer Lheila Oberman whom I have not seen in years. She used to perform as 50% of the late and very-much-lamented Aliens Ate My Schnitzel duo.

Alas she could not tell me about this nor anything else much, because she had totally lost her voice. When I asked how long she had lost her voice, I think she told me it was two weeks because she held two fingers up. We partly conversed through her friend Tim Eagle, a very successful clown, who looked a lot like Jerry Springer and told me people kept saying he looked very like the recently deceased Lou Reed.

I returned home later to a message from this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith, who is currently working in a Vancouver bookshop. In its entirety, her email read:

Anna Smith in her Vancouver hospital

Anna Smith in Vancouver has an untold story of Guatemala

My sister went to Guatemala. The result was three children (now grown) and then she became an Anglican priest !

I asked for more details.

This morning, I awoke to emails with more details, but of Vancouver not Guatemala. The multiple emails read:

A guy who was in the bookshop two weeks ago strode in, eyes gleaming. He asked: “Has that chunky guy been round here much?” I had no idea who he meant.

On sale in a bookshop in Vancouver

Literary culture in a bookshop in Vancouver (Photograph by Anna Smith)

They’re making a movie at Macleods Books, down the street. Jenn, who usually works inside Macleods, was standing at the corner, eyes on the door. Her job was to extract the book hounds who wandered into the store oblivious of it being used for a film set, despite the grips rushing about taking measurements and the ladders and floodlights everywhere.

I had sold a couple of architecture books to the movie’s art director a few days earlier and witnessed my boss dismiss a location scout from a different film, possibly Fifty Shades of Grey. My boss was annoyed:

“Are you holding a contest?” he asked. “Because I don’t want my store involved in one of your contests.”

Marble Arch Hotel undercover in Vancouver

Marble Arch Hotel undercover in Vancouver (Photograph by Anna Smith)

“But it’s my job” said the location scout. We have to go to several potential sites, take photos and let the director choose. It’s not my decision.“

“No, I don’t want you people in here,” said my boss. “You leave a mess.”

A short, slight man rushed in and proffered a shopping bag with a thin wooden box inside. “Are you looking for some gold flatware?” he asked. I told him, “No,” and he immediately hurried out.

Across the street, the Marble Arch Hotel is clad in scaffolding and blue veiling. Three mentally ill drug addicts (two men and a woman) have been living there but are now locked out of the building. Yesterday, they pounded on the temporary plywood door and shouted in all directions, indignant and plaintive: “Would someone unlock the door to our OWN home !!!”

Workman

Chunky workmen seen from the bookshop (Photograph by Anna Smith)

A tall, good looking young construction worker walked into the shop today. He told me they are stripping the lead paint from the Marble Arch building. I must have looked alarmed, because he added: “Don’t worry, it’s not the bad kind of lead”. He asked for a book from the window display – How To Pick Up Women.

I still know no more about why Anna’s sister’s visit to Guatemala resulted in three children and her becoming an Anglican priest.

I live in hope of more details and that Lheila Oberman will speak to me again.

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Filed under Canada, Comedy, Humor, Humour, Movies