Young fathers angle their prams through the shop door backwards, expertly reversing without mirrors and without grazing the wooden ankles of a single shelf. Then they assess the angle, the space and the occupants of the pram. They often consult a reading list on their phone.
Young women, drive in forwards. Then they repack the luggage, apologise twice to everybody and say that they love books. Their prams are always loaded with children, clothing, spare shoes, water bottles, shopping, toys, days, hours and minutes.
Regardless of who drives, the passengers look out serenely and climb out hopefully.
Everyone wants The Very Hungry Caterpillar and I hardly ever have it.
Everyone is told not to fiddle.
All children stare at the fishing tree.
They always leave a bear or a shoe next to Science and Nature, then the family have to come back again to find it.
‘No, not cold, it’s just me, I’m always cold.’ He smiled sideways. This young man, springy and bouncy with glasses that were always about to fall off, was in my shop, looking for any book that is really good.
He swayed from side to side, sighs, smiles. He said he could spend a long time here. He holds a book and stares down at the cover. Doesn’t move. Stares at the title, turns it over and stares at the back. Says, yes.
Then he heard the saxophone.
Customers always take some time to hear the music. The music drops, clean and delicate, down on top of them from a speaker above the Wordsworth classics. Some people stare up at it in amazement. How did that get there? Today, it’s saxophone, and he heard it. Accepted it, as an extended part of the books. A continuing of Pinocchio. An addition to agony, or Primo Levi. An impossible, possible blend of Edward Abbey and Margaret Atwood.
He leaned into the curve of it, eyes closed, moving his ears up and down the shining notes. He said, smooth. He said, Smooth, with a capital S.
He said, ‘I haven’t had lunch yet. I haven’t even had breakfast yet.’
So he left, to get some food. He had red hair.
Sculpture by Adam Binder