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Where Books and History Intertwine Charing Cross Road

A few years ago, while we were in London, I insisted that we visit the Charing Cross Road since books act like magnets to me. Having no other option, my husband had to agree half-heartedly.Charing Cross Road is a London street that runs north from Trafalgar Square to St Giles' Circus and then becomes Tottenham Court Road. Charing Cross Road is not just any street with bookstores, it is the street of bookstores in London, as each town should have one, and if it does, that street gets visited by me to the exclusion of any other sight.My first impression of the Charing Cross Road, somehow, has to do with the way London's traffic lights work.

This may be because I first noticed their odd behavior while we were in the cab on the way to Charing Cross Road. The lights were red, green, and yellow as in the US, but when the yellow light came up before it turned green, red light remained; so, we ended up staring at red and yellow lights together. Maybe that's the way things are destined to work on Charing Cross, together?yet apart.

On Charing Cross Road, bookstores stand side by side like wallflowers at a dance wearing different colors. Above them, acting like their chaperones, are old brick buildings. Maybe these are separate edifices, but they look as if they are of one massive structure because their bricks appear to be in similar colors showing the same age and practically the exact wear and tear. As little as I understand from architecture, I think, the long rectangular windows with white tops and tiny sills point to the same style.If you go to the Charing Cross Road take the tube. You'll save a lot of money.

We could have taken the tube very easily, yet for some trivial reason, we didn't.That day, when the black taxicab left us at one corner, the reddish brown Zwemmers' beckoned us to its large window, boasting art, film, and photography books, but we wandered nextdoor, into the store painted in blue. This was Al Hoda, an Islamic bookstore with quite an impressive selection of books on art and architecture of the Islamic world, plus other books pertaining to Middle-eastern culture.Next to Al Hoda was Smith and Sons, an old-fashioned pipe and cigar shop in red. We looked through its window and wondered why people would spend so much time and energy, carving fancy figures on elephant tusks just to smoke dangerous stuff from them.

Next was the store where graphic, web, and commercial design books were sold. After that came Shipley Specialist art books and then Silver Moon Women's bookshop. I wondered why they would erect a separate women's bookshop. Were we being talked down to as if in a harem or were we being revered? I opted to choose the latter idea, since the books inside were not too different from those at any other store.After that, adjacent to a shop called "Any Amount of Books," stood "Henry Pordes Books" with a large white sign covering its whole fašade. Next to it stood a used book store "Charing Cross Road Bookshop.

" By the way, "antiquarian" and "Second hand books" are the names given to used books. They don't call them used books.The most interesting shop to me was the "Scot Centre" selling everything Scottish from books to pipes to tartans. After the Scot Centre, another used book store curved into the Great Newport St. I know all this because I wrote down the names of these stores in my tiny pad.

Seeing me do this, some people in those stores gave me their cards and promised a discount if I ordered from them. How is it possible to hassle on book prices?.Inside the Scot Centre, an elderly, knowledgeable gentleman volunteered to enlighten us about Charing Cross's history. Charing Cross was one of 12 "Eleanor Crosses" erected at the end of the thirteenth century by the grieving Edward I when his wife Queen Eleanor of Castile died.At each place where Queen Eleanor's funeral's procession stopped for the night, Edward built a memorial cross in her honor.

Charing Cross was one of them. Later, this cross was removed and replaced by the statue of Charles I. Much later, a replica of the cross was placed at the rail station. Since most of London was demolished either by fire or by Hitler's bombers, many authentic looking structures or statues are only excellent replicas of what has been.As to the name "Charing" there are many interpretations.

The word could come from "cierring," which means turning or bending, referring to the Thames River, but the most romantic one is "Chere Reine" meaning "Dear Queen." Romantic? Yes, definitely so, for Charing Cross Road is a very romantic place, at least to a book lover like me.

.Joy Cagil is an author on a site for Creative Writers ( http://www.

Writing.Com/ ) Her education is in foreign languages and linguistics. Her portfolio can be found at http://www.Writing.Com/authors/joycag.

By: Joy Cagil

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