One morning a family streamed in. They were one constant weaving process that went in and out, and in and out, a big family with the nucleus gathered on the footpath outside the door. They represented about four generations. They came in slowly, but one teenager strode past them all, had a quick look and then left again, fast. They all listened to her at the door.
‘They had two of the most popular series in there, on the middle table, but the books I want they didn’t have.’
Another teenager said, ‘They had Spiderwick. Yeah, they had Unfortunate Events. Yeah, they had Alex Rider. But no Witchers. And no Camelot Rising.’
‘Nothing in there?’
‘Not a new boyfriend even.’
‘Have you got Divergent?’ One of them had stopped at the desk, and luckily I did have this one. This child went back out. An adult came in from the group. ‘Do you have ‘Charlotte’s Web?’
I do. I find it, and he shows it to a niece, nephew, daughter, son – I am not sure, but the child calls out, ‘I don’t want it.’ Three small children come in with perhaps Grandma. They want Hairy Maclary, but I am all out! ‘I used to like The Cloister and the Hearth’, says Grandma.
‘Mum, we’re going.’ Grandma hurries out with small children hanging onto her knitted sensible cardigan in sage green and dragging it out of shape.
There is a shout: ‘Alright…everyone hold hands.’
But no, two boys come back in, followed by an aunty perhaps. ‘I want Fords. Or motorbikes. Or Super eights, or something.’ They go into the back room. An older gentleman enters and tells me about Charlie Dickens. I guess he is from this family. They all have the same cheerfulness. Then he asks me, ‘Where is the bakery?’
The group of three, the motorbike group, suddenly flow back past the desk, all talking to each other.
‘They had like books on cars.’
‘But no motorbikes.’
‘Hold on. Lets look a bit more.’
They leave, taking the older gentleman with them, and mill into the group outside.
‘Kwee go to the bakery? Kwee go to the bakery?’
And then they are gone.
Painting by Soraya Hamzavi-Luyeh