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The School of Life in London

One of London's newest shops is no ordinary shop. In fact, it may not even be a shop at all. Don't expect to pop in and be a passive consumer. Do expect to be challenged and intellectually stimulated.

The School of Life is a nifty little self-styled "cultural enterprise." In the heart of London's University land, it offers instruction, discussion, psychotherapy and access to a whole load of imaginative learning experiences. It is a long way from adult ed as we know it, and deliberately so, according to its creator, Sophie Howarth.

Opening its doors for the first time in September 2008, the school says it aims to be a "chemist for the mind."

The School of Life is, "a place where you can try out a variety of cultural solutions to everyday ailments. At the back of the shop a door leads through to an extraordinary underground classroom, where we host regular evening and weekend courses exploring the five central themes of our lives - work, play, family, politics and love," explains. "The experiences of our remarkable faculty are combined with insights from important thinkers of the past to offer a unique combination of wit and wisdom around questions of everyday living."

Two specific services on offer are bibliotherapy (think of a prescription for reading material) or a bespoke consultation with an expert (they say architects, accountants, anesthetists, airline pilots, authors, actors are all available, but presumably they have other letters of the alphabet too).