Wanted: a needle swift enough to sew this poem into a blanket


Ricky came back to the shop today for some more Roman history, a book about the Roman orgies and a pony book for her granddaughters. She said she is also halfway through The Decline and Fall of the Roman Emp! And the reading is going well.
She is feeling athletic because her swimming class is full of old people, older than her that is, and they all of them moan that they will drown in the pool which only comes up to their middle anyway. The instructors force you to swim for 45 minutes which even Ricky thinks is pretty stern. But she pushes on regardless and then goes home for another read of the Roman Emp.
Today she is looking for a poet though…Charles Simic… the one who sewed his poems into blankets…
We looked for Charles Simic and suddenly there was a lady behind us saying urgently: I can’t go past one, I can’t go past one. She hurried back to the door and threw her handbag outside to her waiting husband and he said: well go on then, you go for it and she darted back in and quietened down amongst the historicals and Ricky said: well it takes all sorts.
Then she went off down the street to pay the electric.
I am asked for The VW Bus: A History of a Passion and a book of fairies that are not ugly.
Robert told me that he has been depressed since Christmas and unable to read with his usual knife edged precision.
I am asked if Joseph Roth is still alive.
Outside a tradesman drops his coffee from the roof of his ute and says fuuuuck. The man who is waiting for his wife and holding her handbag looks down at the coffee fanning all over the footpath.
Tyson brings Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh to the counter, pleased to have another to add to his collection of the Marshall Cavendish Great Writers collection.
And he is writing a book, a history book, Portuguese exploration, Colonial mismanagement, naval powers, surrender and defeat and sadness. He plays music, while he writes – English and American tunes, The Yellow Rose of Texas and Amazing Grace. This helps him gain all perspectives of history.
He tells me about the world, his reading and writing and about history and that the only real way to see the world is to look at it upside down. Then he went away, pleased with everything.
The lady came out of historicals and startled me with a copy of Helen of Troy and apologised for having taken so long.



Max in the library


Max was born into too many books. For all his small life there have been a thousand of them on every side, front, and back; each wall is made of a thousand oblongs.
He climbs over, clambers over, steps over, sits on a thousand seats, he regards dust covers through his knees, he is not impressed by author except the highest one on a stack that can be toppled. A book is valuable if he can reach it and he will examine one cover after another and then, finished, will cast each volume decisively aside. Sometimes he will examine pages, turning neatly a hundred at a time, before hurling that book aside too. Then he will climb another pile, perhaps aiming for The Lord of the Rings balanced on the highest heap but actually making for a fly, caught on the windowsill and drowning loudly in the summer sunlight.
But the piles are precarious, not stacked skilfully and there is a slithering of books, limbs and fury. There is Robert Louis Stevenson now under his knees and Memoirs of Hadrian annoying his elbow and Lonesome Doves will no longer hold his toes from slipping. And down he goes, his own private landslide, brief and astonishing, that deposits him neatly on his back and next to him, scattered, a toy motorbike and the urgent need to climb again.


On Valentine’s day…

Lee White.jpg

On Valentine’s day this year, somebody went into the bakery and bought tiny chocolate cakes and asked that they be given as gifts to people sitting outside the bakery and the bookshop and also one to me, inside the bookshop and the lady who delivered my cake said that all she knows is that this person rides a bicycle. And that is all we know!

Artwork by Lee White