How astonishing, when the lights of health go down…


There is rain coming in the shop door, at last, rain for our winter. It’s cold but at least it is there.

Yvonne called out exuberantly: keep warm. She indicated her little dog Marco; he had two coats on.

Robert is excited because two more of his Art and Imagination series have arrived and these will keep his mind off Telstra. He said that Telstra do not care about him, an old man, a pensioner and they would cut him off from the world. Then he admitted that to be cut off from the world is exactly what he wants as then he can continue the book he is writing, but without electricity, because nobody here can afford THAT anymore.

I told him about Virginia Woolf because I want to tell someone about her.

He agrees that she was a pioneer and a stand-alone.

Dion is here and observes that everyone is feeling the cold, which doesn’t help. He has been sick for most of his life. And he says he is going to give up smoking again. Robert said that nobody is going to take his smokes away and then they both leave, back to their tricky lives.

A woman brings in some books to the shop but I am unable to take any more books. Her parents have both died of cancer and she must clear their library. She goes back outside and sits in her car for a long time.

A young visitor is examining Vargic’s Miscellany of Curious Maps and he looks at me and asks: how do they draw these maps…? There is a dispute on the corner outside the shop again. Motorists cannot agree on the courtesies of the intersection and there are voices, horns… the visitor replaces the map book and  leaves to view better the argument.

There is a small boy looking out at the rain through the door.

There are two tradesmen out on the footpath eating from paper bags and they are examining the sky and making predictions. They say that it won’t last.

Alex tells me that her Tupperware party was not so good because nobody came. She buys a copy of The Mandarins by Simone De Beauvoir.

A young man asked me for Inside the Spaceships by George Adamski. He said it is a true account of an abduction by aliens and he asks in every bookshop if there is a copy. But I don’t have one.

Another reader asks for Patrick Suskind’s Perfume.

John brings me a copy of Inferno by Dan Brown to read. He is struggling to walk now.


Photography by Ray Hennessy


“Consider how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul…”

Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill

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