In North Hollywood, there is a marvelous bookstore named The Iliad. I gave it a visit last Friday – laden with food as I was, I was still agile enough to be able to scurry through its doors.
Inside, it is slaughtered with books (Does that make sense? I mean that the interior is simply OVERWHELMED with books). All ages, all categories. I mean, there's a shelf labeled 'Oddities'! Who couldn't spend a minimum of 2 hours there?
I bought an armful of books, one in particular that I'd like to mention. The title page reads thus: "Souvenir of the Willesden Carnival and Torchlight Procession, for 'The Daily Telegraph Soldiers' Widows and Orphans' Fund', Held on May 16th and 17th, 1900". Willesden occupies a handful of NW London.
It's a narrow, hard-covered book. Ten dollars. A title unusual enough for me to want, and cheap enough for me to buy. Which I did.
Now, in the early summer of 1900 the Boer War had just begun and the Seige of Mafeking had just lifted. So the theme of many of the floats was patriotic in nature. For instance, above is a float dedicated to Col. Robert Baden-Powell (known as "B-P"). He was largely responsible for the the British troops' survival of a seige that lasted over 200 days, using some rather clever tactics. But look at the photo carefully, peeps – there is a CHILD posing with a rifle.
Swivel to the right – sorry for the quality of the scan – to see a sad thing. The lettering on the side reads 'His Last Letter' and features a Florence Nightingale-type of nurse (don't think the uniform had changed much from the Crimea) and a fellow officer, with helmet doffed.
But there are some things which are just plain evil (turn eyes warily to the left).
And yes, what is a carnival without ladies and their festive bycicles? Go, Miss Allnutt!!
But there's more: this place was in possession of what all bookstores should have: an RK, or Resident Kitteh. I heard her mewing softly from behind the check-out counter, and when I asked – delightedly as well a a little hysterically – 'do you have a KITTY here?', her owner answered in the affirmative before going to feed her, which is really all Zola had on her mind at the moment.
Zola is a one-eyed, petite, floofy tortie kitteh, with a sweet, musical meow. When I was about to leave, I saw her again, completely settling down into 'Ignoring Aubrey' mode. But I was able to skritch her between the ears, and suddenly I was worthy of her presence. Such a dear, pretty creature. I took her picture from the Iliad's website (am I allowed to do that?). Her bio on the site is terrifying: she spent her first two years in a hamster cage, never receiving the care of a vet. Untreated infections led to the loss of one eye and some teeth, as well as leaving a scar on her remaining eye. If anyone is near The Iliad bookstore in North Hollywood, give it a visit, buy some wonderful things and give Zola some love.