It’s been some eight months since Brixton said a fond farewell to two of its old friends: Patrick Kelly, owner of Bookmongers on Coldharbour Lane, and his beloved dog Rosa.
‘I think at some point Rosa and I will just walk off into the sunset,’ Patrick told me in early 2013. And so it came to pass. A man who had run this cosy cornucopia of books for over 20 years set off in May of last year for an adventure in Nova Scotia and a journey down the east coast of America. We didn’t know if or when he would return.
So as I stepped into Bookmongers today, having not been in for some time, it was a warming sight to see Rosa running up to me and Patrick popping out from next to the counter.
With the pace of change in Brixton, Patrick is a steadying force. When people talk about London as an impersonal place, or as money-driven, or homogenous, I think of Patrick – as an island around which these waters pass. London can be all of those things and more, but there are people who tread their own path and act as beacons for the rest of us.
Travels with Rosa
Patrick told me he liked the anonymity of his trip – but then said it’s also nice being somewhere people know your name. We agreed that both can have their charms. He spoke of his travels – and pointed me to a gallery of images of ‘Travels with Rosa’ – a loving and sprawling collage of Rosa trekking down the east coast.
I’ve rarely missed an opportunity to tell Brixtonians and bibliophiles alike just how much I love Bookmongers – and today reminded me just why it’s so special: so personal and welcoming.
Patrick told me he ended up at a place called Driftwood Beach. But with the currents bringing him back here, I wondered if he was talking about Brixton.
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