Reading, Standing Up

family

The mother and son have edged into the shop together, shoulder to shoulder, she to look at art books, he to read Sea Quest right next to her; he is showing her its qualities, casting for ownership. They read on silently together, it is warm in that room, cold outside. A younger sister comes quickly through the door, she has headphones in and she joins the group, leaning her head into a shelf, rests there, eyes closed and says nothing at all.

Then the father joins them, and he lines up too, curiously, shoulder to shoulder. He has a book that is very funny, but I can’t see what it is. Every time he exclaims, his family glance across, frowning. Suddenly,  the grandmother is here. She is looking for Agatha Christie and her family look at her kindly. Her son shows her a very funny thing in his book and she glances down at the page, frowning.

Suddenly they all lean in together to examine each other’s books and they all begin to talk about Watership Down, a book which none of them are holding.  There is something they can’t agree on, the grandmother is furious with her adult son, who is trying to find his phone. They can no longer stay in the corner of a bookshop, near art and photography, they all look through the window at freedom, which they feel they have abruptly lost.

They leave with great courtesy, splintering off at the doorway, thanking me, looking sideways at each other and diving for freedom.

Sculpture by Max Leiva

The Couple Who Came in Together

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This couple came in, came in very together and walked around the shop together and nodded over the books together. They hardly said anything.

Sometimes I heard them murmuring and laughing about something but only briefly. They were in the shop for ages, spending time in all the sections, reading even the children’s books silently and smiling over them. They spent a long time with a book by Jorge Borges called The Book of Sand. They talked and talked about that one. When they got to the science fiction they did not handle any of the books. They stood and looked up and down the titles, sometimes they said something to each other but they did not pull out a single book from there.

They did not buy any books at all but when they left they thanked me for having a bookshop.

Sculpture ‘The Couple’ by Kieta Nuij

The Young Readers

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Although it is cold outside there are people everywhere, spending a hopeful Sunday not at home. And there are two children here, brother and sister, who came into the shop earlier and who have refused to sit with their father in the car parked outside. They have been here for nearly an hour and have not spoken once.

They have circled and surveyed the displays and the shelves, balanced on one leg, sat under the tables, leaned on shelves and examined book after book in an intense, rich and enchanted silence. Once they met up too closely at the science fiction and they glanced up briefly, and then silently the older brother moved aside.

Once they reached for the same book. Their father came back to see how things were and neither of them looked up at all. Once, she toppled some Ranger’s Apprentices to the floor and they both stared down at them. Once he laughed out loud at Gorilla World and she looked at him, not seeing him, only seeing Con because she is reading The Magic Thief: Home

Once she says: this book is really good, you should see how they make the bridge. But he didn’t answer. Later he says: are you getting anything? But she doesn’t answer.

When they leave, they have not chosen any books, but they have replaced carefully the ones they examined and when they pass me they smile and say: thanks, thanks for the bookshop.

 

 

 

 

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

The Kama Sutra for Cats

Sylvain Sarrailh

On one of the days of last week, the beginning of winter when everyone is saying: oh, winter is beginning, isn’t it…. a lady came into the shop and…
she stood for a while looking around in an exhausted and worried kind of way and then drooped across the counter and sighed and sadly she said she needed a gift for a lady, a friend, who does not read books. She asked me would I sell perhaps the wooden cat in the window and I said: no.
She said she thought that I might sell it and I said: no.
She said she needed a gift for her friend because her friend is at this moment looking after her cats. She has 19 cats. I wondered out loud by accident if this was just too many cats and she looked at me in complete rebuke and she said there is no number of cats that is too many.
I thought that it is the same with books and at last we were in agreeance. But I will not sell my cat in the window because it is mine.

I suggested she purchase The Kama Sutra for Cats because it is very funny and is only $4 and she looked at it for a long time. I was impressed at how long she looked at the book and then I realized that she was not that impressed with it at all. She thought that her friend would not appreciate it. She sadly left without a gift or anything for her friend who was at home looking after all those bloody cats.

Artwork by Sylvain Sarrailh

 

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I’m just looking…

 

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A little girl wandered into the shop here one morning with a bucket of chalk and she was all by herself. She said: I’m just looking at the books.
Then she looked at me and said: sometimes I see words that are really small and I’m like…
There was a long silence while she waited politely for me to understand what it was like to see words that are really small.
Then she said: yeah.

She continued walking gently around, noting out loud what she liked.
I like Olivia.
I like this. I like this, maybe.

The door swung open suddenly and her father was there, looking at me in amazement. He looked at his daughter and said: God, what are you doing, we couldn’t find you.
He checked his phone. She said: just looking.
He checked his phone.
She kept on looking and he checked his phone.
He said: ok, come on. The weather’s coming in.
She walked past and bid me goodbye, serene and glowing. She said: I like mice.
And her father ushered her out, hurrying onwards and outwards into the weather and into the future.

Photography  by John Wilhelm

 

 

Outside, in it

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Outside in the street it is hard and cold and silver, people come through the door, outlined in rain, they apologise for the rain and try to shut the door quickly, which is impossible.
A visitor said: beautiful weather. We’ve just come from Ireland.
There is a small group of ladies, all come off the train. One of them raps sharply on the window to her friends going past and their heads swing around rapidly, looking through glass at the sound but they walk faster and don’t stop. The lady tells her friend that Maureen is deaf.
Another man, who has been looking for train books shoulders back out into the freeze, he calls back: we’re working on the crossing so can’t stay but I’ve a grandson, 3 years old, need some books, as many as possible. Then he is gone.

There is the sound of falling books in the back room, cascading for ages, and voices raised, softly alarmed. A man says – well done dear. This man has re written Shakespeare, in better English so that now the young people will read it, for once.
A lady demonstrated her fold up bag for me. She has bought Olivia for her granddaughter and she folds it up in the fold up bag along with the kale and the eggs and
her friend said: that’s a good bag, Brenda
A lady said that she and her husband used to be English teachers and that it is tragic the way that young people no longer read. I said that around here, they do. She said that she doubts it.
A young woman told me about Rumi and Tagore, told softly how they are everything in the world.
Outside it continues gray and cold, the tradesmen jog past the window, they balance pies and coffees and a new hunched posture because it is suddenly cold. One young man says into his phone: well it’s fuckin’ windy so no. Then he throws his phone on the back seat of his car.

People hold the door open to look in and tell me that is cold. One lady said bless this weather my dear!
I am asked for Elizabeth Jolly’s Cosmo Cosmolino.

A young man buys a copy of The Complete Stories of O’Henry with microscopic print.
The old ladies in the back room with the good fold up bag are nodding over Stephen King, they are doubtful of the content, still, they might get one for a granddaughter.
A young man passes the windows rapidly, he is pushing a wheelchair. He says: I love books, I could read them all the time. The person in the wheelchair, an older man with a beret says: for God’s sake, not in there and they continue past and do not look in.
An old lady enters rapidly, she is from the train and has lost all her friends, thank God for that. Now she’ll just have a look around if that’s ok with me.

A young girl tells me that at Woodchester there was a rainbow and that she was outside in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Rain in Strathalbyn

Yelena Sidorova

On Thursday it rained, laying the summer and the dust to rest.
Somebody passing outside said: what brought this on?
Their friend answered: I don’t what brought it on but we’re not ready for it.

The postman said: we’re in for it. The letter he gave me is wet.
A family shouldered through the door and told me it is raining. They are looking for Mr Men books for the baby.
The baby says: hello hello hello hello hello hello puppy, hello puppy, hello, hi, hi…
The baby threw all the Mr Men books on the floor. This is because he didn’t want them. His father tells him that he would like to know who ordered this rain!

Simon is picking up a book he had ordered and told me that it was him that ordered the rain, haha. He said that now he will go and read at the bakery, waiting for the wife, I have a lovely spot, it’s reading weather again, I hope she takes her time. He salutes the sad baby as he leaves.
Another man browses in silence, along the shelves, along the rows, along the spines, slowly, reading out loud but silently, caressing each title in his mind. He reads his way downwards, later he will tell me that books are endless.
A lady outside said: shit. Shit this bloody rain, it’s supposed to be summer. Her friend told her that summer ended ages ago. The veranda is dripping.

I am asked for Cider with Rosie,  The Land of Painted Caves and A Brief History of Time.

There is a young woman, balancing on one foot, considering Francois Sagan, she is bending her head over that beautiful little paperback, thinking what things…? Francois Sagan herself would not require an answer. An old lady was pleased with Mulga Bill’s Bicycle and The Complete Lewis Carroll. She said that she once knew Morse code and every night she reads until 10.45pm and when she left she said: thank you for all of this.

A couple languish against the shelves whispering about everything they have read so far. The looked very happy and very urgent, urgent to continue adding and adding. They take with them Hilary Mantel and Chinua Achebe’s There was a Country. Outside a man is leaning against his car and smoking and staring hard at the Lee Child books in the front window. He gestures toward one of them and says something about Tom Cruise to his friend. The other person laughs.
An old couple leave with nearly all of the Agatha Christies. They tell me it is cup of tea weather.
The young woman who had been balancing on one foot has chosen a copy of A Certain Smile by Francois Sagan and she leaves, balancing on this radiant accumulation to her life.
Then it is quiet again, and just the rain.

Artwork by Yelena Sidorova

 

 

 

 

 

Young Man Reading

Man reading

The young man came in here during the afternoon, the last of April, the last of the summer warmth and sat in the wicker chair to wait for his mother who needed some more of Georgette Heyer. He glanced around the place, he was not too interested in the place, he was serene enough, happy to wait for her. Later I noticed him reading, it was a worn paperback copy of The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud. I wonder why he chose it. He read for more than half an hour and then his mother finished with Georgette and came to the counter with nothing at all and he stood up and carried the book over and tapped the cover and paid me for it.
He said, “good one,”  and then they left, out of the door and gone.

Young Man Reading by Ignis Bednarik