There have been very few customers this week.
But this morning there are two husbands here, moving slowly, slowly, around the shop together, one of them knows every book there is. He tells me about every book there is.
Oh, and Edgar Allan Poe I know about him, and look at this, Alice in Wonderland, I know about that. I see you have Shakespeare and Monash. Do you have any books by Pauline Hanson…then he laughs, I’m just pulling your leg. His friend laughs and laughs, too, and he says there are no books by Pauline Hanson, I’m telling you.
Then the first man asks me: do you find that you can’t make a living out of selling books anymore? I mean we can just go to the op shop and get some books for 50c, what do you do about that? And all this computer rubbish, that’s ruined it as well hasn’t it really…what do you do about all of that? I said that I can’t do anything about those things and that my business is not successful.
He lists off every Wilbur Smith book he has ever read. He repeats his joke about Pauline Hanson again. He suggests that the days of reading books are over. He tells me kindly that I have a nice little hobby going here anyway.
Then suddenly their wives are at the door, looking through the glass, looking over their sunglasses, they are not smiling. One of them comes through the door; she picks up and purchases a copy of My dog Tulip by J R Ackerley and tells me that what I am doing is not little, not small, not finished.
Then she sweeps out, leaving the lights all on, and scattering husbands everywhere.
Artwork by Pascal Campion