My very local Waterstones is closing down. The news was in the Leicester Mercury today and for all the world I felt like I was reading an obituary. Until June 1st Leicester has 2 branches of Waterstones both of which are perhaps most accurately described as adequate bookshops which is no reflection on the staff who have always been wonderful (Nottingham Waterstones by comparison is excellent but then it also feels like it's always had a bit more love from on high) my branch used to be a Dillons and once upon a time it was the best bookshop I'd ever seen.
In all honesty Leicester doesn't need 2 branches within a quarter of a mile of each other and the closure of 1 branch has seemed inevitable ever since Dillons and Waterstones became one. I'm sorry that they're closing the larger branch partly because it has space for a better range but mostly because I have a deep emotional attachment to that shop. I used to spend Saturdays browsing there when paperbacks were about £2.50 each and when it had a theology department that also sold church candles - you know, back in the good old days when bookshops were really bookshops...
Over the years I've spent thousands of pounds and as many hours in that shop. In the Costa (resented because it took good book selling space) I've drunk endless coffee's with friends, it's where the Scottish one first suggested we meet for tea and buns (how could he fail to be the right man for me after that?), I used to have a sneaky skive in there when I worked round the corner, and it's been the one shop in town I go in every time I go into town.
Personal reasons aside though it's sad to see another shop go, it's a large building with enough age and charm to make it hard to imagine anybody else taking it on any time soon. The city centre is - well whatever it is, it isn't thriving, these are grim times, and however much sense this particular closure makes it still feels like something to mourn - and as much as I'll miss the shop I'll miss the staff more, I hope the next month isn't too hideous for them.