Thursday, October 16, 2014

John, Sugar and Rocco

This is John, who sells used books near the West Hampstead Thameslink rail station. He sets up on the sidewalk with his three-legged staffy Sugar, who's lying on her green mat in the background. On this particular day he also had his friend's big black dog Rocco with him.

Sometimes he has interesting books, and he lets you pay whatever you think the book is worth -- I think I gave him £2 for "Gone Girl."

I've often thought John would make a good picture, but he's usually surrounded by masses of pedestrians on the sidewalk. Finally, on Sunday, as I was on my way out to the HA postcodes, I caught him at a quiet moment. I browsed his books and bought a slightly sticky Penguin Popular Classics edition of "The Moonstone," a thick Victorian tome by Wilkie Collins that I might or might not eventually read. (According to the dust jacket, Collins was "a master in the art of the English detective novel," and this particular book brings "a sense of attending upon the birth of the detective story.") I paid £3 for it, and then asked for a photo.

Then I asked if Sugar -- who really is very sweet, by the way -- could stand up and join him. He called her over -- she's very agile, despite her three legs -- and I took a few more shots. Rocco decided to play hide-and-seek in the background.

John has such a thick accent that he pronounces his name in two syllables -- "Jo-ahn." At first I thought he said his name was Jordan. Finally I figured it out!

Anyway, I'm going to make prints of these two pictures and drop them off for him.


  1. He looks like an interesting guy.

    By the way, I read the "Moonstone" years ago and it was very good!

  2. Sugar looks so much like our old (now deceased) boxer named Pearl. Same markings. I'm glad that John has his companions. What a gentle way to make a living.

  3. I love people like John...they are so interesting! I think that is why I like to go to garage sales....I don't need a darn thing but I like to hear the story.

  4. great pics and interesting guy. I wonder where he gets his books and how he came to sell books on the sidewalk.

    re your comment on my blog...yes, they always do drop immature nuts and it always seems to me that we won't get any mature one and we always get more than I can shell. I still have nuts left over from the last two years. The squirrels are getting the oldest ones.

  5. A book containing short profiles of people like John would be interesting.

  6. I like him
    His dogs are well looked after

  7. Love the photos and the story!

  8. Those are great pictures of John and his dogs. I'm sure he'll appreciate the prints. As a former bookseller, I'm always glad to hear about those continuing the business.