Readers of books, those increasingly rare items and indeed less and less seen in school and “college” libraries in England, might like to visit Parkinsons bookshop in Lord Street, Southport, Lancashire.
It is conveniently almost next door to a giant megalithic Waterstones, that you can go into if you must, and in the words of the Scousers down the road, “AVV ’A LUFF”. Not only at the Waterstonyfaced, bepierced vegetarian assistants of indeterminate sex, with intense countenances, but also at the “modern” book displays, mainly of fiction-authors of whom you have not heard before, and about whom you suddenly feel inadequately-well-read. There is a Monsoon in the middle where you can leave your wife or girfriend, while you converse with Tony Parkinson in the proper bookshop, which we call the University of Southport.
Parkinsons, unlike Waterstones, does not sell new books; but you can find titles that you thought had disappeared from the face of the earth long ago. Not much Libertarian stuff, but as all libertarians are always interested in many, many varied things, there is much to delight.
As well as minerals and fossils (he does not “do” examples of socialism or death-cults, sorry!) he is a good source of “lab gems” to please your intended. That is to say, perfect and chemically-correct artificial copies of stones such as ruby, sapphire, emerald, aquamarines, etc; some very large like half-an-inch or more, or about 100+ carats, for prices 50 to 1,000 times lower than the much rarer mined stones. (More than 90% of all non-diamond precious jewellery stones sold retail in jewellers are lab-synthesised; the technology has been well understood for nearly 8 decades.) Expect to pay around £10 for a nice ruby, or zirconium silicate “diamond” 3-4mm across, or only £150 for a 3/4-inch oval emerald.
Libertarians like bookshops, especially if run by slightly unusual characters with “angles” on things. Parkinsons is great. And you’ll be glad you rubbernecked round the town and along the beach at the same time. (There are other bookish places too; if you have time, go into Kernaghan’s nearby in Wayfarers Arcade, while you are there. More expensive. If you are lucky, the local Soviet will have reinstated the statue of Dan Dare, a Manchester lad drawn and characterised by Frank Hampson, a Southport man.)