I’ve been away from the shop because I’ve had covid. I drooped at home and read books. Sometimes, I went outside in the rain and looked up and down the road to see what other people were doing. I mostly ate instant noodles. I read a book about Queen Elizabeth I caught in the tower of London and doubting the future. Now I’m back at the shop and watching people pass the door, sometimes coming in but mostly not.
Visitors approved my covid reading choice. There’s something about Queen Eliz 1 which catches the ear. ‘Oh yes. She was amazing. And that Mary Queen of the Scots. Were they related?’
A man bought all my Asterix books (except the one in French) and said he’d inherited a stack of Tintins from his dad. He told me about a lecturer who did a thesis on Tintin. He went all around the world to investigate the stories and research Herge, or Georges Prosper Remi, who wrote and illustrated the Tintin books. He said, that’s a thesis people would actually want to read. Probably the only one.
A couple passed the window and stood in the doorway to make some adjustments. He said, ‘The trouble with these straps is they don’t work’, and she said, ‘You’ve got something on one of your thongs.’
A child went past, holding a parent’s hand and wearing a beanie with rabbit ears. They turned their head and I saw their eyes bobbing along, looking in at me before disappearing past the window.
A couple told me about the difficulties of teaching: there’s no support. Someone they knew had a pair of scissors thrown at them. They left their school. There was no support. They said the most destructive thing about schools now is the media. Once they get hold of a story, the truth will never be known.
A woman turned in my doorway and called loudly to someone out of sight. ‘Leave it there, we’re getting lunch.’ Then she walked back towards them and disappeared.
It’s cold and dark. People are dressed thickly. I saw a dad walking past my door, rugged up, scarf, beanie, everything, and his son next to him in shorts and t shirt. The child said, ‘I’m getting chips.’
Colin came in for a while and said he was getting into digital photography. We watched a couple cross the road in front of the shop: they began it together, holding hands, but then parted in the middle and went in completely opposite directions. He looked back and she waved him away. They went into separate chilly areas of the park. He sat down on a bench and she went to their car and threw her bag on the front seat before getting in.
A young man stared down at a copy of Moby Dick. He had a bottle of coke clamped under one arm. His friend came over and they both stared down at the book. Then they went into the back room, talking about whales.
A very small child handed me a book and told me he liked peacocks. When his family left, sweeping him out through the door with them, he was singing: dad dad dad dad dad. His dad said, ‘Come on mate. Back to the car.’