The Empress

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I’m just going to look in the bookshop.
A woman said this outside the shop, she said it to her family, or perhaps they were friends, but anyway, they were all male and all young except one, her husband maybe.
Are you serious….one boy said this on a note of desperation, his voice slid around on the word “serious” trying to find something positive to stop the downward slide.
I won’t be long. I thought she was calm and good and I hoped she might come in. They had stood for ages in the doorway, they looking down (at phones), she looking in.
Are you serious…this said by another boy, he had headphones and long black jeans that rolled underneath his shoes and were worn away like old matting. He had a black singlet and on the front of this was the word Satan.
Just get into the car. This was what she said next while I was hoping she might come in.
… are you serious… This again from the first boy who swayed back and then downwards, marking the agony of his life right now.
Get in the car. And so, like that, she trimmed the arguments and parted the agony, opened the door and came in and I was pleased. She was serene and upright, pulling the summer in after her and needing nobody for attendance.
Outside the window were her menfolk, family or friendfolk, slumped in a sort of comfortable defeat, dropped against the window, one boy hoisted his shoulder against all new ideas. The headphone boy stood still in his own private response, eyes closed anyway. Another, a third boy made binoculars out of his hands and telescoped her through the glass, his orange T-shirt stained the light, and I saw that his eyes tracked her from shelf to shelf and sometimes he made his eyes desperate  thinking she was looking at him. But she wasn’t. He wanted to go home but she didn’t.
All those boys drifted over to their car and I watched them. The car was parked right outside the shop, it was white, they opened the doors and left them open. There were chip packets all across the back seat.
One boy lay across the back seat. One boy sat with his legs on the dashboard and the other possible brother slowly baked his evening plans, sitting on the footpath.
There was a father too, he was already in the car, was reading the newspaper and not bothering to question the rather beautiful afternoon.
Inside the shop it is cool and nice and she, (the empress), is leaning with Janet Evanovich, leaning against the cool wall, an empress, not hurrying, not concerned with outside.
When she left, much later on, she paused in the doorway and re entered the summer exactly in the way she wanted and all the sons stared at her wordlessly and she stared back at them in exactly the same way. It was excellent.

 

Artwork: Red Shirt on the Steps by Darren Thompson

…and then he just threw everything into the creek…

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A customer told me this: when he was young, he read all the stuff in school. But his cousin, his good cousin, he didn’t read anything. Well, they are still mates. And his cousin said only the other day: why do you read stuff Rob, you don’t need to read, all you need to read is just one instruction book man, like a manual, like the engine manual of your car man, life only needs a couple of instruction manuals.
Rob told me that on the last day of school, long time ago, they were going home and he had in his school bag all his stuff, all his books and that. And he has kept them all until this day because he loves them, even the book on how to type, and the book on how to spell and the book on how to do other stuff, BUT his cousin, he threw all his stuff in the creek.
When Rob told me this story and told me about the part about the creek, he looked at me and we both thought about the books in the creek, the slap against surface, the heavy sinking, the triumph, yes! And everyone thinking, yeah, free…whatever…
Rob said that he kept the books on how to type. He loved those books. He always saw things a bit not like the others and all that.
Now he reads and read many things – he is reading Faction Man because he is not sure that Bill Shorten is all that he’s cracked up to be, reckons that that guy never had a proper job yet. He should of worked at MacDonald’s or something and leaned how it is. That’s what reading books told him about: work a proper job until you are despaired of it and then you can get famous. But if you don’t work a proper job, get your hands black and all that, go home owning nothing except a bad job then you’ve no right being in government and that’s why they are all wankers.

British Tits

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I made a window display after Christmas and lined up the books in an amusing way by accident. Many people stopped to comment. Some leaned back and leaned in and read and re read. Some people have taken photos. One boy said to his friends: omg, look at this: British Tits or something. Is that what it says? But his friends have walked by.
One lady said: oh well, that’s a funny old set of books.
One man stopped and pointed, he tapped the glass over and over and his laugh split in pieces and dropped all over the footpath. But his friends, one with a walking stick, had moved on.
One lady rode her bike across the footpath and stopped at the window and took a photo of the display.
Some older teenagers lingered there, and all worked hard to say the funniest thing. One boy said that his tits had thrush and his friends looked at him politely but without enthusiasm.
One man parked his motorbike and took ages to stow his helmet, fold his jacket, haul out his bag, find his wallet. He stood packing things in and out and regarded the display impassively. Then he went to the bakery.
A child said: look at the cat.
On man said: British Tits to his wife, twice, and she looked at him and didn’t smile.
Two old ladies together read out the titles and looked at each other and laughed like anything. One of them said: what’s wrong with Australian tits. Her friend leaned back and laughed about sixty years of life easily up into the sky. They walked away arm in arm and triumphant.
Some high school aged students, two boys and a girl walked past and one boy read the title in surprise. He read it out loud but the other boy didn’t hear and the girl raised her shoulder against the joke and so he could not continue it.
One man roared out: British Tits to nobody and nobody responded and he continued on to the bakery.
Sometimes I feel as though I am on a houseboat. And life gently gulps past the window, removing and returning, on and on, and never really stopping, not even for British tits.

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These will last one week

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They are standing very still, this couple who came into the shop in the early morning and she examines the books leaning first on one leg, then the other, still, always still. She holds one book against her waist and reads the back of another. He says something and she looks up at him, stares at him, doesn’t answer, they stare at each other. She looks back down at the book she is holding. He rocks on his heels and whistles a little. She has raised a stack. He looks at her as though she were raising hell and he looks proud, he looks at me to see if I have noticed that life today is a masterpiece.
When they came in, she came in first. She plunged into the books, into the choices, leaving the bright summer day outside easily and gliding in without looking at me. I thought she scanned the perimeters of possibility within a few seconds and favourably too because her face went from holiday to intense. Maybe he recognised the flags because he squared up and rocked on his heels and made ready to carry the world.
He carried some of these books over to me, set them neatly on the counter and looked at me and said: this isn’t all. And they’re not for me because I’m not that clever.
Then he went to retrieve more and suddenly he appeared backwards through the second doorway, just half of him because he was leaning sharply back and he said again: that’s not all. That’s not all – and those books for her will last……ONE WEEK.
When she came out to pay for the books, he was already stacking her world into his arms. And she looked at him with her head on one side, considering something and then they left, and she was leaning closely in with her arm across his shoulders so that they could not get through the doorway easily and had to jostle and wedge and they are nearly dropping the books and he is saying: don’t worry, I’ve got ’em.

The Interview

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Yesterday afternoon there was a great crowd outside the bakery – I could hear them but could not see them – it sounded like school children to me. And it was, some of them, all friends, soon came past, eating from paper bags and drinking coke and fluttering by like birds. They glanced briefly through my door as they usually do, looking through the door without seeing it. But this time, one girl indicated the door with her elbow and said to her friends: see that shop there, well I totally went in there once and asked for a job and they were like just FUCK off!

I tried to remember this interview, but I couldn’t. Still, I thought for a while, imagining myself interviewing possible employees for my tiny business and that felt very good! But I would not dismiss any applicants that way, except for Donald Trump.

 

Sculpture by Dirk de Keyzer

Honey, do you have it?

 

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A young couple came into the shop out of the cold today, he was cradling a tiny baby. She was carrying parcels and bags and she ran into things because she was looking so hard at the spines of the books. He carried the infant on his chest in a sling and he kept one hand on the side of the sling and the baby clutched one of his fingers, holding on tightly while it buzzed in sleep.

He searched the shelves as carefully as she did and he found book after book that looked promising and he said: honey do you have it?

Sometimes she said: yes, got that one…

Sometimes she said: oh I need that one…

Then he would rise up and take the book and place it gently on the counter and cradle the baby again and look down at the tiny hand coming out of the carrier and holding onto his own hand and he looked broadsided by the joy of so many events at once.

 

Hand sculpture by Bruce Nauman

Magic Dragonflies

Black Winged Stilt's Silhouette by Bhanu Kiran Botta

Outside the shop window there’s a bus pulled up, a group of visitors are climbing down the steps into the cold and looking grim. Through the window I can see them taking each step down with great care and encouraging each other to make it to the pavement which is an unreliable three steps down. One man reads out loud the sign on my window which says: Please Come In…
He reads it three times and then says: well, I don’t think so!!!!
Another man agrees, he thinks a cup of tea is more the go.
There are three ladies, now landed, standing in the cold breeze and hanging on to each other, they glance about and laugh, and one says: oh God, bother this wind.
Then a there is a truck coming past, slowing down, and I can’t hear them but I can see them looking through my window and tapping on the glass and speaking to each other, exaggerating the words and looking annoyed at the truck which is stopping, no doubt planning to also have a go at the bakery.

But still more visitors are climbing slowly from the bus. The bus driver stands at the door, offering assistance and looking down toward the bakery in a longing sort of way. One lady tells a man called Colin to get the devil out of the way. Another lady has left her umbrella on the bus and must go back.
But soon they are all moving down past my shop, pulling out purses and aiming for cups of tea, hilarious and making jokes except for one man who comes in to the shop and asks me for a book about the black winged stilt.

I said that I didn’t have one. He said it didn’t matter at all, it’s just that he always asks just in case – because when he was a boy, there were black winged stilts on the lagoon and every morning he would see them, and they were so delicate and fine that he had thought they were magic dragonflies.
Then he smiled and said not to worry, not to worry and went to find his companions and a hot drink.

Photography by Bhanu Kiran Botta

Mystery Blogger Award

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So What is Mystery Blogger Award?

“This is an award for amazing bloggers with indigenous posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion.” – Okoto Enigma

Thank you to Bitchin’ in the Kitchen for nominating me.  She writes an extraordinary blog from the point of view of a cat lover, voracious reader, cook and lover of life and all things travel and with a fabulous sense of humour.

Rules:
• Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog
• Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
• Answer the questions from the person who nominated you
• Nominate 10-20 bloggers you feel deserve the award – I’m nominating less because I want you to check them out!
• Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice with one weird or funny one
• Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

Three things about me:

  1. I love coloured glass.
  2. I have my own bookshop and it is the most risky, most creative, most wonderful and least successful thing that I have ever done.
  3. I will never give up the bookshop.

Questions I had to answer:

•Do you pronounce it data or data?      Darta ( I think )
•Does toilet roll go over or under?      I don’t mind so long as somebody actually puts on a new one

•If you could create a spell what would it do?    Put more hours in the day ( for reading )

•Do you like talent shows such as X Factor, Pop Idol etc? If yes, which is your favourite? No, I don’t watch any of them…

•Complete the sentence “When planning a trip to the zoo you should always…..”   take champagne and several books in case there is a spare moment between monkeys.

Questions for my nominees:

” The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. ” (Dorothy Parker)  TRUE or FALSE?

Where are my reading glasses?

Is it ok for me to have a kindle seeing as I also have a bookshop?

If you are reading something you are not enjoying, how long will you persevere?

My nominated blogs are:

Cathy’s Real Country Garden

amusicalifeonplanetearth

Suave Trans

Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50

Bella G. Bear Art

Travellin’ Penguin

wanderingglynn