values and designs that couldn‘t be further removed from Ted Baker‘s of-the-moment looks. Pink‘s is where you‘ll find classic shirts in a variety of plain, striped or checked styles. each with their own detachable collar stiffener. where button-down collars are the nearest you‘ll come to raffishness. The staff tell me their customers tend to be ‘conservative dressers’ or ‘city boys and girls‘. so a lot of the shirts no doubt turn up in the office. And yes. along with the obligatory boxer shorts. smart ties and bows. they also sell braces. In stripey. plain or spotted. (TrevorJohnston)



Robert Cresser‘s Brush Shop 40 Victoria Street. Edinburgh. 225 2181. ‘When I first started here.‘ says Stephen Gilhooly. amid the racks. shelves. barrels. cupboards and hanging display units full ofbrushes. ‘I thought I‘d never stick it. but I‘ve been here twenty-two years. and to be honest I wouldn‘t change a thing.‘

The shop has sold brushes since 1873. and has seen very little change since then. The wooden counter. shelving and floor are all original. as are the stone walls of the backroom workshops. which are in the process of being stripped down. ‘About 70 per cent of our stock is made on the premises.‘ explains Gilhooly. handing me a pure bristle nailbrush for private experimentation. ‘The other 31) per cent is bought in. but it‘s all good quality.‘

At Cresser‘s you can choose from all-hair anti-static sweeping brooms (£8.80); light. sturdy Bahia brooms (£6.80); traditional. double-ended hogshair window wipers (£12); chimney sweeping brush (£24 including rods); tough. stiff-bristled deck scrubbers: long-handled flesh brushes. to reach those awkward spots (£4.80); ostrich feather dusters (£7.80); sets ofshoe cleaning brushes (£5.80); free-standing. double-sided boot wipers (£18); nailbrushes at a modest £1 .90; and a host of brushes fulfilling almost every imaginable function.

The only break with tradition, in fact. is the range ofwoodenware which now fills any shelfspace not

occupied by brushes: attractive. locally—produced kitchen utensils. bowls and other containers. Just in

case you need something to keep your brushes in. you understand. (Andrew Burnet)


Wind Things. Edinburgh. Cowgate Head. 220 6336.

Kite-flying competitions are something that the boys down at Wind Things in Edinburgh are keen to get offthe ground. They. the competitions. take roughly the same form as an Ice-Dancing Championship. with set routines and free-style sections performed in the air. often to music. The raw materials for such an event are displayed in their recently opened shop down in the Grassmarket.

‘There is a a wide variety of kites here from different kitemakers and manufacturers from Europe and all over.’ Explains Tim Gibson. ‘The most popular one is still the Malay or Eddie. which I tend to call the traditional kite-shaped one. otherwise people don‘t really know what you‘re talking about.‘ The shop‘s desktop counter is boxed in by kites ofall manner ofshapes and sizes. ranging in price from £4.95 up to around £75 (no strings attached) for some of the stunt kites. ‘A lot of people come in researching Christmas presents for their offspring or nephews or nieces or whatever. We have been quite busy really.‘

Even ifyou‘re not one to get high on kite flying. the spectacular cellular Kites. which stand like giant honeycombs on the floor of the shop and which spiral through the air under their own momentum. may launch you on a love affair with kite flying. All you have to do is pull a few strings. (Ross Parsons)


Forbidden Planet 168 Buchanan Street.Glasgow.33l 1215.

The Science Fiction Bookshop 17 &

40 West Crosscauseway. Edinburgh. 667 0426. It goes without saying that comics these days are a bit more sophisticated than The Beano. The Broons or Superman. According to James Hamilton. co-owner/manager ofthe Science Fiction Bookshop. things have really blown up over the past four or five years. though the shop in Edinburgh‘s West Crosscauseway goes back fifteen years.

Since then. it has spilled over to a second premises across the road. and under the name Forbidden Planet to Glasgow‘s Buchanan Street. where trade since the opening last summer has been even healthier than in Edinburgh.

‘We try to stock everything. with minor exceptions.‘ continues Hamilton, ‘and we sell to a real cross-section. from schoolkids to doctors and lawyers.‘ A cursory glance along the shelves reveals a

huge diversity in the market in comics and ‘graphic novels‘ (longer. more complex works in comic strip form).

The most prominent figures are still the superheroes Spiderman. the Incredible Hulk and ofcourse Batman. and much ofthe material is ofan explicitly violent nature: but there‘s a good deal that‘s more subtle. intelligent and humorous. some ofit executed with considerable expertise and sensitivity. Alongside the comic books sit related goodies like T-shirts and plastic models of cartoon characters.

Movie/comic crossovers are among the best sellers. ‘Star Wars gave this shop a‘big boost twelve years or so ago,‘ says Hamilton. ‘The old stand-bys like that and Star Trek have dwindled a bit. but Batman‘s really hot right now because of the film.‘ Unsurprisingly. science-fiction cinema such as Alien and Predator transfer readily to comic form the latter. says Hamilton. for the better. despite the absence ofbig Arnie.

‘I think we‘ll get one more Christmas out of Batman.‘ grins Hamilton. ‘The big book I think will be Arkham Asylum. a 128-page hardback written by Grant Morrison from Glasgow [price £14.95]. or you could get the first ten issues of Spiderman in a book at £18.95. 2000A D and Judge Dredd are always popular. . . and the other big one of course is Viz.‘

Which makes one wonder about the nation‘s youth. doctors and lawyers. (Andrew Burnet)


Mr Wood’s Fossils 5 Cowgatehead. Grassmarket. Edinburgh. 220 1344. This self-explanatory establishment has been trading for two-and-a-half years now. and offers something for literally every pocket. ‘When we first opened.‘ explains Julie Nisbet. who manages the shop for renowned palaeontologist Stan Wood. ‘wc thought our customers would be mostly collectors. but 90 per cent of the people who come in really don‘t know much about fossils.‘

Aesthetic appeal is therefore the biggest selling point. and it‘s here in abundance. whether you fancy a tiny. spiralled ammonite at 30p. or a huge slab ofeocene sandstone from Wyoming. complete with its perfectly preserved fish skeleton. which comes in at £3400.

Not all the pieces on offer contain fossils. but many possess a mesmerising beauty: the minerals and crystals. for example. which according to Nisbet are increasingly bought for their medicinal properties. and vary from £3 to £10.

Substantial Christmas reductions are currently offered on a range of smaller fossils. each specially packaged with an illustrated information card. These come in a range ofshapes. colours. sizes. and prices: from £1—£6.25. These are also available through museums and other outlets.

Mr Wood‘s shop is unique in the British Isles. but not short oflocal colour. lfyou fancy getting in touch with Scotland‘s pre-human ancestry. Stan‘s the man who digs it up. Anyone for Lizzie the 340 million-year-old lizard. or. at a mere ll) million years her junior. the Bearsden Shark? (Andrew Burnet)


Obelisk Books: Vintage Crime and Fantasy Fiction Virginia Galleries. Virginia Street. The tall

brunette lit a Chesterfield and eyed me suspiciously. ‘Is that a gun in your poeket‘. she asked. ‘or a dog-cared copy of Nicky Luca‘s 1958 sleaze classic High School Hookers 0n Heroin ‘."

‘Neither. It‘s my notebook. Got anything to say'?‘

‘Sure. Detective novels. thrillers. crime. Nice little vicars. gun-wielding crazies. We got ‘em all. Let your people know that.‘ She turned away. I moved on.

In the next room. a giant. jelly-like alien the colour of custard-gone-septic was quivering in acorner. It emitted a faintly appalling aroma. ‘Still smoking Turkish tobacco. Grnnfr'."l inquired. The reply did not denote amiability: ‘Die. earthling fuckpig‘ were its exact words. Fortunately. being hit by a tangerine segment is not usually fatal on this planet. I picked up a copy of The Best of Arthur (1 (‘Iarke1933—7l. hit the beast in the belly. and left it slumped on the floor. As I went out. the theme tune from Stingray was playing softly.

Obelisk is a dangerous place. A man can go in there armed with his pay packet and come out with some crime fiction. several hundred back issues of2()()()A D. and The Bunty Annual For Girls 1958. Dangerous. but worth the risk. The books aren‘t new. but you can‘t get stufflike Never Shake A Skeleton in many shops these days.

Stocking-fillers for my fetishistic friends. Relaxing Christmas reading for myself. Strange sounds from the Sixties. Books. comics. and records- all worth browsing through. So take my advice. Go there. Or you‘ll end up like the alien. Deader than yesterday. and twice as wobbly. (Stuart Bathgate)

84 The List 8 21 December 1989