One man gave me his name and address. ‘Remember us,’ he said, ‘We have an interest in the history of Victor Harbour.’
I often hear about local councils, bus services, and Woolworths. I hear about local doctors and what they say. Some conversations begin without preamble, ‘Kate Grenville, my God she’s a good writer.’ And others are carried on through the door help open.
‘I need the next Lee Child, you got him?’
Visitors show we their art, their families in London, their gardens, and their pets – we gaze together at the little pictures on phones until a text message flashes across the top, where r u did u get bread. One lady knew my family from a long time ago; her daughter had gone out with a very distant cousin of mine. He is now dead, but she isn’t. I learn things about autism, cancer, dementia, death, suicide, and English teachers.
Customers talk to each other while they wait, ‘Is that your own company? Do you do gutters in Mt Barker too?’
I am told about books that should be banned, and why they don’t agree with Harry Potter. They ask me what to do about books they lent out that are not returned, and if I think that books make good gifts. Do I know any editors? Do I bind books myself? Do I live here? Do I know anything about heart disease?
Today someone said there aren’t enough carparks here. Then he told me about the local council again.
A child told me that it’s nearly Christmas. Then she smiled, hugged herself and went back to the Asterix books.
Painting by Henri Matisse