Visiting my bookshop means a complimentary struggle with the door. It is not old or new or beautiful. Everybody finds the door difficult except for Dick who is 94 and said that he’s gotten through worse doors in his life.
The door opens sulkily on a wheezing breath and then stops abruptly, its hinges allowing it no further; it will bruise a pram, thud a shoulder and remove confidence. Then it won’t shut at all. This door will creak and croak back to the last half inch gap and rest there for ten seconds and then abruptly shatter the peace of the shop with an impossible crash. People will jump in horror and stare at me and at the door, holding their books, their hearts and their lives in place with one hand over their chests. Each shopper thinks it is their fault. Sometimes the shock causes them to put chosen books back, and then I think that I should just remove the door and not have one.
My door can also stay half open, holding its breath and this bitchy balance for at least two hours and then crash land into the door frame like a truck hitting the building. One young man said he had a door like that at home, and that they do this because the closers are fucked. All the old heavy doors do it. Also the hinges could be fucked. He examined the hinges and said that they were not fucked.
My door will not let a pram out. Mothers, shopping, toddlers and prams are mixed together in a hot doorway jam, trying to exit. They always apologise as if it is their fault. It isn’t ever their fault. They will crush their prams to cardboard rather than be unkind about my door. The door stands there rectangular and exultant.
My door likes to lose its stupid doorknob in every tenth shopper’s horrified hand. The golden bulb throws out the screw quietly and slides off just as the door opens one inch. Then it will smash spectacularly back into the door frame and ruin a day. People always think they have broken my door and they apologise over and over again and the door expands ready to do it again.
But small children can reach the lower handle. They love the heavy, solid move of it. They love the cold glass and often lick the toffee, clear panels. They can open and shut the door over and over, bang and bang and bang without going in or out. If it crashes unexpectedly, they love it.
Parents, making important reading choices call out to their children: don’t make trouble.
I feel that, when assaulted by such enthusiasm, the door withdraws in consternation and then horror. I urge the children silently to keep going. Tap the glass, open the door, peer out and shout hellooooooo to an empty street. Push on the wood, but it won’t close. So lean in panting, chest to wood, kick it, push it until it gives way with a sullen and furious small click, defeated.