Daily Archives:March 27th, 2008

Et in Arcadia ego

The ‘Grand Arcade’, Cambridge’s new shopping mall, opened its doors at 10am this morning. At one level, it’s just another shopping centre. But they’ve done a nice job of burying some quite pleasing stone- and wood-clad modern architecture…


behind the old shops on Regent Street:


There were pretty girls wearing Grand Arcade sashes, inaudible speeches by the mayor, and aerial acrobatics:


and there were balloons falling from the sky.


All mildly entertaining, but for me, the most amazing thing was the genius of the Apple marketing machine. I didn’t even go into the shiny new Apple store – I’ve been into plenty of those in other places – but hundreds of other people did. Dozens of new shops opened their doors for the first time today, but the centre was dominated by the long queue waiting to go into Apple and get their free tee-shirt. The Apple employees outside cheered and applauded the first customers to enter. People lined the galleries wondering what was happening and asking each other why this was the most exciting thing in the arcade. Sheer brilliance.


Michael and Laura must have been around number 150 in the queue but still got the VIP treatment.

Compare this to the ‘Coast’ store as photographed by Geoff Jones

The sign says, We’re really sorry, we’re unable to open as our till system is not working.

One week from today

The Blackstone Key

“The footsteps grew louder, and now Mary could make out the dim figure of a man advancing towards her. What was he doing on that lonely stretch of road on a dark, inclement night? It seemed impossible that he was an innocent traveller, however much she wished he might be. His tread was too cautious, almost furtive, and he was carrying something… it looked like an unlighted lantern. Surely an honest man would not choose to travel in the dark?”

The UK edition of Rose’s novel, The Blackstone Key, hits the shelves on Thursday.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser