Friday, 31 January 2014

Goodbyes and Hello. . .

I'm always sad when a bookstore disappears.  Earlier this month I read that the Annex location of Book City in Toronto was closing; I spent so many years browsing and buying books there when I lived in the area, mostly during my university years. It was open late and it was a favourite place to head to if I needed a break from studying. I could always find a interesting book that I'd not come across and they had great remainders.  Fortunately their other locations in the city are staying open, but the Annex branch was really special and I don't think that strip of Bloor St. West will ever be the same.
I'm not a huge fan of chain bookstores, but I've always had a soft spot for Waterstones and I'm crushed that the Bold Street branch in Liverpool is also closing at the end of this month. There are two Waterstones in Liverpool and this was definitely my favourite even if it was smaller than the Liverpool One main store. The building is gorgeous, the staff recommendations were a little more quirky here, and the Costa coffee shop on the first floor (second floor for North Americans) was a great place to read or knit sitting at one of the tables by the windows overlooking the busy street below and with great views of the architectural details of other local buildings. There was also a very nice cozy space around the corner from the till, tucked under a sloping opaque glass roof. I am really going to miss it. Like so many other bookstores, it's fallen victim to rising rents.

I had made a resolution not to buy any wool, clothes or books this year (so far I'm holding fast to the first two), but news of these stores' closures depressed me. I just wanted that lovely feeling you get after wandering around the aisles and tables with no purpose and picking up whatever captures your mood and imagination at the time. So I cracked and bought a lovely selection of books:  Longbourn by Jo Baker, Instructions For a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell, The Light Years: Cazalet Chronicles Book 1 by Elizabeth Jane Howard (a series I've wanted to read for a long time), The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry, translated by Sian Reynolds (the French are always so good at writing about the importance of books) and Train Songs, an anthology of poetry edited by Sean O'Brien and Don Paterson.
On a happier note, I'm eagerly anticipating the re-opening of the Everyman Theatre which kicks off its new season in March with Twelfth Night. This famous building has been undergoing renovations ever since I arrived in Liverpool and I can't wait to get inside and see a production.

In conjunction with the Playhouse Theatre, the spring/summer programme is looking very promising. I would liken the two (in Torontonian terms) to a nice blending of Soulpepper and the Tarragon; a nice sprinkling of classic and contemporary plays but a commitment to new work as well. Following the Shakespeare will be Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge, the world premiere of Hope Place by Michael Wynne (the Everyman is located on Hope Street), Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs) which is a modern update by Carl Grose of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (really looking forward to that one), and finally Betty Blue Eyes by Ron Cowan and Daniel Lipman, based on a short story (later adapted into a film) by Alan Bennett.  Now you can't get better than that! There are also several touring productions coming as well.

One of the nice things about following a company is getting to know the actors and seeing them pop up in different roles, so I'm very much looking forward to acquainting myself with the Everyman ensemble. And I theatre is one of the few things that is far cheaper in the U.K than in Canada (I think they are more highly subsidized).  The cost of an entire season was less than the two tickets I bought for my Mum and I to see Soulpepper's Parfumerie last month. I thought when I moved here that I'd miss the theatre scene in Toronto terribly, but it's very alive and well in Liverpool.

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