Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Same-old, same-old Curzon Street

  Violating my holiday from
  care, Heywood Hill wrote
  in to announce their new
  website, and I summarily
  offer the penalty of hot
  publicity in the same me-
  dium. We've visited them
  before from this address,
  but this time I leave it
  all up to John le Carré,
  in a well-recollected in-
  stance of intrusion upon
  a fellow's private time.

.. he solemnly set off for
Heywood Hill's bookshop in
Curzon Street, where he oc-
casionally contracted friend-
ly bargains with the prop-
rietor. On the way he became
even more irritable, and from
a call-box sought an appoint-
ment with his solicitor for
that afternoon.

"George, how can you be so vulgar?
Nobody divorces Ann. Send her flow-
ers and come to lunch."

This advice bucked him up and he
approached Heywood Hill with a mer-
ry heart only to walk slap into the
arms of Roddy Martindale emerging
from Trumper's after his weekly

Martindale had no valid claim on
Smiley either professionally or
socially. He worked on the fleshy
side of the Foreign Office and his
job consisted of lunching visiting
dignitaries whom no one else would
have entertained in his woodshed ..
He affected buttonholes and pale
suits, and pretended on the flim-
siest grounds to an intimate famil-
iarity with the large back rooms 
of Whitehall.

With due regard for my shameless
fondness for Trumper's Portugal -
a happy evocation of another Age
in California - I credit the nov-
elist for a withering appreciation
of that very same fateful juxtapo-
sition we've all experienced, of
the sublime bookstore and the tem-
ple of vanity. Here was Tillman
Place, there Tiffany; here was
Scott Martin, opposite Wilkes.
This lent many a fanciful jaunt
the flatulence and bad company of
a supererogatory lunch, and not
a reader has lacked for Smiley's
regret of Martindale.

John le Carré
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Penguin Books, 1974©


  1. As soon as I saw the photo I thought
    "forget the books, let's talk about Trumpers."
    The little crown on the top of the bottle stopper is what I miss

    1. The little crown on the top of the bottle affords a wondrously firm fit and an assured grip in the ritual of its undoing, for a refreshing dégorgement. Somebody was clever to think that through, and I'm glad this design has been sustained.

  2. my corner shop
    from 17 queen street mayfair

    1. I don't know that I could have resided so close to either establishment without being tempted to develop a contrarian preference for something less excellent. Proximity makes for a truncated processional, yes? Exceptions allowed for beaches, of course.