There are two Waterstones shops in Newcastle city centre.
That's not surprising as such. There are at least two Natwests, two Schuh shops, two post offices! No, the thing that isn't quite usual is quite how close they are to each other. If you stand at Grey's Monument, you're halfway between the two, and neither one is more than 30 seconds' walk away. You can see each one from the other's doorway. They both hold pretty much the same stock, and I don't honestly understand why they're both still open.
One used to be a Dillons, and when most Dillons stores were rebranded as Waterstones, I think everyone expected one of them to be shut down. I guess the fact that they're both still open nearly ten years later means they're still both pulling in a decent profit.
D and I try not to go in bookshops in town, for the simple reason it's a damned sight cheaper not to. Our self control goes out the of the window and we're awful for encouraging each other. 3 for 2 offers? I wish they'd never been invented. We'd be a lot richer if they hadn't... but then we wouldn't have so many books. You win some, you loose some.
I'd just go in one store, myself, but D always has to go into them both, just in case he misses something important.
Went in one of them (the one opposite Boots, next to Fenwicks, for anyone who's keeping track; incidentally, the one I bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows from at 1.40am on 21 July) on Saturday. I was wandering downstairs, trying to think of reasons not to buy the books I was after, when D turned up, all excited-looking. He wanted to order a book that he'd not expected to be out yet and needed the use of my credit card.
While paying for said book, I noticed a sign behind the counter. It politely pointed out that Waterstones could not give refunds for books that had dedications written in, had prices cut out or scribbled out... I could barely believe what I was reading. I couldn't resist asking the girl behind the counter whether people really tried that crap.
No, not yet, she said, but she was looking forward to the first person who tried. She told me about people who opened CDs that came with books, though, and tried to return them even though the seal was obviously broken.
Then she told us about a book called 'P3n!s P0k3y' (I really don't want the google hits from that) that had been out around Christmas. With a hole. And how if anyone tried to return that, she planned to point and laugh.
Can't blame the girl, really. I was disappointed that the sign didn't live up to expectations, but that story made up for it.
We had some lunch, wandered round town for a while. D looked pleadingly at the other store as we walked past, the one near the Theatre, so we went in. I was looking at the 'S's when I heard voices coming from my feet. I looked round to see what was going on, and realised the voices belonged to a couple of people standing half way down the stairs to the basement, hidden from view by a wheeled bookcase.
I moved round, working my way through the end of the alphabet, before turning round and noticing that one of said people half way down the stairs was the man I originally worked for in my current job, before he was seconded out and eventually left. Who I needed to invite to my leaving do (more of that anon). So I skulked round til he'd finished and caught him on his way back up the stairs.
I'm still bemused I didn't realise I recognised his voice. It's a lovely voice, soporific and smooth. Great to listen to aurally. Not so good if you need to remember the work he's giving you. He's a real character though and I'll miss him - even though he left he still drops in from time to time.
Waterstones shops. All the good stuff happens in there.