This is Andy Slovak in his Aladdin's cave of a bookshop - praise (from me) doesn't come much higher than that - in the Norfolk seaside town of Cromer.
Much Binding (that's what the bookshop was called - a riff on the venerated radio comedy 'Much Binding in the Marsh') has, sadly, closed for good. But Andy very kindly allowed me in yesterday to have a last, lingering browse of his shelves and boxes.
It was my third and final visit to Much Binding - I blogged about my last visit four years ago. Much joy was had. And a fair bit of dosh spent.
Andy's shop was unusual in stocking quite a lot of odd copies of left and radical papers and journals. Just up my street!
I was delighted to find a few copies of the Black Power paper The Hustler, published in Notting Hill from 1968.
Black Dwarf was perhaps the best political paper of that era, and some of the covers featured striking drawings by the rapier-like Ralph Steadman - recognise Harold Wilson here?
Tariq Ali and other IMGers on Black Dwarf broke away to set up Red Mole, not as good a paper but again the iconography is interesting:
And who wouldn't love a copy of the International Times with the Furry Freak Brothers on the cover (this is from 1970):
Andy also had some runs of old anarchist papers in French and Spanish - I picked up a couple of copies of an Argentine anarchist publication from the 1920s:
And yes, I did buy a fair few pamphlets and handbills too. That's for another blog.
In the shop window, something quite remarkable ... and beautiful,. A hand-painted Bengali election banner. (No I didn't buy it!)
Amazing what you could come across at Much Binding by the Sea!
It must be almost a decade since I popped into a bookshop in Cromer, on the north Norfolk coast, and came out with an assortment of goodies. The stuff that makes the rest of my household despair, but I really love ... like an assortment of old copies of Socialist Standard and pamphlets from the left libertarian group Solidarity.
I've been meaning to go back - and in the past week I managed it.
And the good news is that Andy and Susan Slovak's shop, Much Binding (as in 'in the Marsh'), is not only still going but still awash with pamphlets, ephemera and all the sort of stuff that makes a second-hand bookshop special.
So what did I come away with? Well, a couple of 1930s copies of the Daily Worker, and of the New Clarion of similar vintage complete with details of the Clarion cycling clubs which were once such an important aspect of socialist culture (the National Clarion Cycling Club is still going, by the way).
And there was this choice piece of political ephemera - the Blastfurnacemen's ball (it sounds a bit like 'I'm Sorry I Don't Have a Clue', doesn't it!), at the Beehive Hall in - as far as I can make out - Workington in Cumbria.
And here's an election canvassing card from ninety years ago - William Preston, by the way, was a Tory and in 1929 he lost Walsall to Labour.
And then there are the pieces of ephemera which offer just a glimpse of a personal story - like this 1946 recruitment leaflet for the police force in Palestine. It seems to have been an option for those required to do National Service -
And on the back, there's this handwritten note -
'I applied in march 1947. But dad would not sign the papers.' Given what was happening in mandated Palestine in the run up to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, I think Dad made a wise decision!
If this sort of thing appeals as much to you as to me, make haste to Much Binding.
Paris? Not quite! This remarkable late Victorian pile overlooks not the Seine but the North Sea. And it's known by locals as the Hotel de Paris, rhyming wiith Harris not Marie.
The building doesn't exactly shout Parisian gaiety - it's a touch dour, though with some nice design flourishes such as the mosaic tiles in the entrance.
The current hotel dates from the 1890s and replaced an earlier building of the same name. It stands above the pier at Cromer on the north Norfolk coast - a town which has a lot going for it, not least its very tasty crabs, but isn't anything like as fashionable as it was when the hotel came up.
The hotel currently has 61 rooms, is three star and has 'free WiFi in public areas' - I think you get the picture. It's a listed building and deservedly so - a touch of faded elegance on the North Sea coast.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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