Toothless in Southsea

Dalrymple unexpectedly enjoys a visit to Southsea:

We had a few hours to kill in Portsmouth and went to Southsea, where Conan Doyle was once a general practitioner. A former haven of petty bourgeois respectability, it is now seedy, its Victorian and Edwardian terraces divided into flats and bed-sits for students, recipients of social security and transients with jobs. I loved it.

For one thing there were scores of little shops, with no chain shops in sight; and you could park for free for two whole hours! There was a splendidly must second-hand bookshop specialising in pre-war crime novels, presided over a pre-internet owner who did not spend his time poring over a computer comparing prices. Southsea seemed delightfully unregulated; it as like going back several decades.

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