I went out shopping for shoes yesterday. It was a bank holiday so town was packed. A while ago I discovered a new parking space bang in the center by all the shops, just up a backstreet off the main street. I was up and out and in the car for 9.30am, like a legend, and got the spot when I arrived. It’s funny, I’ve known this row I parked the car on my whole life. I think most city centers probably have a version of the district it sits within. A dilapidated shoppping ‘arcade’, head shop, military surplus store, the work of accomplished graffiti people on run down facades, tiny art place behind glass shop front with an installation on display, comic book store, sex shops, gambling machine place. There was even a vinyl record store near my car. Manchester has a huge one of these- the Northern Quarter they call it. Belfast’s is just a few streets, which then extends into the still artsy but yuppified ‘Cathedral Quarter’. I’ve always felt like an imposter in these areas. I’m not mean enough for the mean streets. Debenhams is where I belong, trying on polo shirts like the sleepwalking capitalist slave I am.
But with all the positivity being up and out so early brought me I did spent some time around there, sticking another £1.20 in the meter on the street for an hour. The main thing I wanted to check out was the book shop. The inside of it took me by surprise. It extended back and back and back. It had a great ‘bowels of the earth’ feel, like what you want from a second-hand bookstore- the feeling you could discover something rare and precious. Having a wee adventure is always nice. Here’s a photo of the place: