I kept meaning to go in…… a eulogy for another favourite place

We hear this phrase a lot when we go out and folks realise where we’re from.

‘Oh The Art House!  I’ve heard of that – I keep meaning to come in’

A proper old school bookshop - becoming rarer by the minute.

A proper old school bookshop – becoming rarer by the minute.

Bik and I joke that, if we had a quid for every time we heard this, we’d be able to fund this place without having to bake so many cakes!

But today I said it myself, about a favourite place of mine, only now it’s too late.

I’ve just seen the news that Peter Rhodes Bookshop in Portswood is to close.

They are having a closing down sale and need your support – see the Facebook event here for details.

(Please note, it’s the physical bookshop which is closing, Peter Rhodes books will continue to trade online – but you can’t have a coffee in an online shop, alas).

I am pretty gutted.  Bik and I spent a lot of our planning time there when The Art House was just a dream, and even looked at a premises nearby as we thought they’d make good neighbours.  I had an art show there, we went in for coffee, attended events and were pretty regular visitors.  I remember many interesting chats, chance encounters and random conversations.

Then my habits changed (read:  The Art House happened).  I kept meaning to pop in on my day off, for a coffee, or to attend an event there, but honestly?

I hadn’t been there for well over a year.  More fool me!

It’s the same with other places now closed – The Bent Brief, The Newport Inn in Braishfield – places I went to infrequently, even though I loved them dearly.

There just doesn’t seem to be the time, but then one day the chance is gone and you realise there probably was a few hours, here and there, to go and support the place, and enjoy it whilst it was there.

It’s hard to say this, but The Art House won’t always be here.  Nothing lasts forever, and although we have no plans to close, we never know what the future may hold.  This summer, the challenge of Bik’s Dad’s illness put our future in question, although our growing number of patrons is keeping that particular wolf from the door – for now.

So I guess I’m saying, don’t be me!  I’m busy, you’re busy, hey – we’re all busy!  It’s the curse of our times to never have time.

But lovely places only carry on if we go to them.  Loving your favourite venue from afar just isn’t enough, you need to get up, go there and put some money in the till.

I urge you, this summer, to get out to some of your favourite places and enjoy them, whilst they are still there for you to enjoy.

About janifranck

Artist, activist, founding director of The Art House in Southampton.
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