These are photos from my favourite bookshop in London: Foyles.
This is the foreign language floor! Yes, floor not section 😁 The last photo shows the Italian and German grammar, vocabulary, etc., not including the literature! There is another full side for Italian alone. You can also see Portuguese, Russian and Greek, plus the aisle for Korean, Japanese, and Chinese.
Not featured: the Nordic languages section, Ancient Greek, Latin, Polish, French, Spanish, English, Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi, Afrikaans… And so on and so on. Too many for me to remember.

If you visit London and you love languages, I really recommend that you visit.


Ein syrischer Flüchtling macht Youtube Videos auf deutsch. It is glorious, everyone go subscribe. That’s an order!

(via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cp3JGmhLUXc)


Historical Trivia: Rubber For Binoculars 

At the outbreak of the First World War it quickly became clear on both sides that despite their stockpiles and industrial capacities there were certain resources that they would soon be short of.

For Britain this was binoculars, used by officers and artillery observers to spot targets and gauge accuracy. However, Britain’s ability to make high grade lens and glass for these field glasses was limited. Germany before the war had been the European leader in many chemical and industrial sectors. Britain was not just short on binoculars but also camera lenses for aerial photography cameras, telescopes, rangefinders and naval periscopes. The British optical industry was simply incapable of meeting demand. 

British Army Binoculars c.1917 (source)

In contrast to this Germany, the world’s leading manufacturer of precision optics, was able to produce the vast quantities of military binoculars its army and its allies needed. By 1915 Britain’s need for optics had reached crisis point and a strange plan was decided upon. In what now seems like a highly unorthodox move the newly founded Ministry of Munitions sent a secret delegation to meet German representatives in neutral Switzerland. 

The German War Office allowed the optic company Zeiss to manufacture and sell precision optics to the British. An initial order for 8,000-10,000 pairs of binoculars for infantry officers and artillery observers was made. In return the German government asked for supplies of rubber. With German ports blockaded by the Royal Navy and no indigenous source German industry was in desperate need of rubber - something which the British Empire had vast stocks of.

Two British Officers inspect a German bicycle with spring tyres c.1918 (source)

The exchanges took place through Neutral Switzerland however, how long this clandestine arrangement lasted is unclear. While there are fragments of agreements and records which give us an indication of the scale of the Anglo-German deal the practicalities are not so clear. The exact amount of optics and rubber exchanged remains unknown. It seems that deal ended 1916, and may have even been a single transaction.

By 1916-1917 the German army was becoming desperate for tyres, increasingly trucks were fitted with steel rimmed wheels rather than tyres which churned up roads. Similarly German bicycles increasingly had their pneumatic tyres replaced by ‘spring typres/wheels’. These were made up of a large number of coil springs sandwiched between two metal bands to offer some comfort to the rider. 

While the clandestine rubber for optics deal was not strictly illegal it could have been seen as treacherous by the people of both countries. The Trading With the Enemy Act of November 1914 had ruled that German commercial assets in Britain were to be put in the Public Trust. However, trade through neutral intermediaries was not banned for instance a number of other goods such as German aeroplane magnetos were purchased through Swiss stockists up until 1916. The deal is one of the many lesser known quirks of the First World War. 


Image One Source

Image Two Source

To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918, A. Hochschild (2011)

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