I thought it was high time I posted an update on one of our filming locations – Cecil Court in central London. It’s been a surprisingly long time since I wrote about its fascinating history and even longer since I blogged about the shoot at Goldsboro Books and David Drummond’s shop.
On Friday I happened to be in the area, so I thought I’d return. First off, you may remember me mentioning that an 8 year old Mozart briefly lived in Cecil Court, at the time that he was composing his first symphonies. Well, since my last visit a blue plaque has been installed to commemorate the fact.
It was unveiled by the actor Simon Callow, a noted supporter of Cecil Court, who also portrayed Mozart on stage in 1979 and has been quoted as saying “I am absolutely thrilled to do anything to celebrate Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.” If you haven’t already, you can read Callow’s 2009 Guardian article he wrote about Cecil Court being an “astonishing enclave (which) is an entertainment in itself.”
The plaque is now beside the door of ‘Pleasures of Past Times,’ which viewers will remember from the scene of The Last Bookshop where the Shopkeeper sits alone at his desk and contemplates his mortality.
Talking of ‘Pleasures of Past Times,’ we received an e-mail from the owner, David Drummond, this week, wishing well for the film’s success, and also explaining that much of the shop’s business is now being cared for by his sons Tim and Paul. We wish them the very best in maintaining the life and character of their father’s unique shop.
I noticed another small change as I walked up Cecil Court, this time glancing through the window of Marchpane. As I have mentioned before, this delightful children’s bookshop has its own resident Dalek – a grey 1970s style one to be precise. But on Friday I noticed a flash of red, and – as I stepped through the door to investigate – I realised the shop is now home to 2 Daleks!
The latest addition is a rare coin-operated 1965 fairground Dalek, which kids would have been trundling round seaside amusements, exterminating their friends and family, before Matt Smith was even a twinkle in his mother’s eye.
How, you might sensibly ask, can such a small shop fit 2 full size Daleks in it? Well, the answer is that our old friend the grey Dalek (bought from the BBC via auction) has now been elevated above the staircase, to peer down sinisterly on all customers and keep them in check. Amazing.
My thanks to Natalie, the girl at the counter on Friday, who kindly let me take these photos, and with whom I had a very interesting chat about science illustration. Natalie, it transpires, is an illustrator herself. When I told her the premise of our film, she remarked how she’d always fancied the idea of a science fiction story about bookshops. This didn’t stop her from telling me her other great science fiction idea, although I won’t let the cat out the bag. Fortunately for Natalie, the source material for her other idea is sufficiently obscure that nobody is likely to beat her to it.
Frankly, if shelves of beautiful Victorian children’s literature, an alleyway of adjacent bookshops, and 2 full-size Daleks aren’t enough to get you excited, then I don’t know what you want from life.