In autumn, colours change

There’s a couple outside my book shop. They are standing at the kerb looking into the boot of their car. She has lost her bag.

 ‘I’m looking. I’m looking.’

She has striped hair; pink, purple, white and silver and it is beautiful. Her shoes look like running shoes, and they are striped with pink, purple, white and silver.’

She says, ‘Give me the keys.’ He does. She disappears along the street. He comes into the shop. He says, ‘I’m retired now, and I have a shed full of engineering books where I spend all my time. There’s not enough time.’

He muzzles along the shelves for a while. ‘Very nice here. What made you do this then?’

‘Don’t know really.’ I have to put down Elizabeth Jolly to answer. Elizabeth Jolley has just said that old age is like flipping  over pages in a book at a deafening rate and not reading any of them. I am shocked because this is true.

‘Don’t really know.’

‘Well. It’s nice here.’

Suddenly his wife blooms against the door with a sacred pink purple white and silver presence.

He shouts, ‘Are you lost, lady?’

‘I’ve just been over the lady’s toilets over there. I have to tell you what I saw.’

It’s cold. Her breath frosts on the door. They leave.

Yesterday at home I noticed that the windows have changed colour. I mean, the glass in the door holds different colours because it’s autumn. Maybe the light has a different angle. Maybe the temperature of the light is different. It was morning when I looked at the glass. Hot grape becomes cool rose. Thick sage thins. Hot lemon chills to its rind. Pink fades and becomes tough. I look at these pieces of glass all the time. With Elizabeth Jolley.

I went walking. It rained a bit. There is only six minutes to the edge of town. Then it’s paddocks.

On the way back through the short streets I saw the empty wheelie bins wearing their lids like yellow capes down their backs, and they sit there, mouths open drinking in rain that lands in their bin throats with tiny fast liquidy thumps.

A  man is standing at the counter in the shop in front of me with Gail Godwin. I say, ‘Oh, she’s GREAT’. He asks me for Haruki Murakami because ‘He’s GREAT. Look what HE does with reality.’ I say, ‘Oh yes’. And decide to start reading Haruki Murakami. The man stands there beaming. There are no words to explain Haruki Murakami. This man has grey hair, worn long, and he wears a sapphire blue sweater and good boots.

In autumn where I live, the evenings are grey like steel and beautiful.

In autumn, unnecessary belongings start bothering decent spaces. We sort and prune like mad. I fill the green wheelie bin’s mouth with green stemmy food.

The grape vine is as yellow as a pair of bananas. Soft, and with conversations going on in black ink.

It’s not possible to keep up with autumn. The windows are an authority on what’s out there. Each colour has an opinion.

My door, again

I wrote this blog three years ago. Since then, my door has been fixed. It is ordinary, appropriate and dull now. I had forgotten how it used to be.

“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 as 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 smooth glass and press their faces on the cold clear slab. They will 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. 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.”

Colours quarrel

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I wrote this in December 2015, when the windows were completed, but I had no image of the glass taken in the evening.

“Linden has given me some squares of glass for Christmas. These will be fitted into and around my front door which receives a drench of light every afternoon. I imagine a cathedral, but really this is just my front door. I had my colours organised, but the glass artist changed them because he said my colours were not going to obey me. He said that colours quarrel. My dark rich colours would go black and sulk.

He changed my panes to rose, champagne, sage green, ice and an invisible gold. I complained that now there was no colour. And there wasn’t. He said there would be, that now the colours would cooperate and allow each other a fair go in the light, and that they would change as the light changed and show all of their personalities. My dark colours would just turn their backs because didn’t have enough space.

I said I didn’t know. He replied that it was understandable, everyone is busy. But there is nothing so busy with its own concerns as a piece of stained glass. Each piece of glass thinks it’s right. They needed to be treated subtly and with cunning to get them to all do what you want without them knowing.

Well, my glass panels are up and fat with warmth and light –  and they are beautiful; the artist, with his dreadlocks and tools and dusty workshop was absolutely right. In the morning they are quiet and smooth and rich, in the evening they are hilarious, and show blue and purple even though this is impossible.”

The Door

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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.