Dutch

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A group of people came in off the train. There were about fourteen of them, all friends and all speaking English and what I thought was German, but turned out to be Dutch.

They loved the books. They moved from room to room. They knelt to read the children’s books to each other, in Dutch and in English, a working counterpoint that swam in bright notes all over the shop.

The husbands were shouted at. They were too slow. One man wanted a certain picture book with a kangaroo on the front. They stood in a circle around the book, tapping the pictures, talking about the kangaroos and the fairy penguins. Then he couldn’t find his wallet, or his phone. He was shouted at again. The words were beautiful, effective, unfamiliar. The wives waved bags in the air and made shushing sounds. They made sounds of impatience. They made sounds of derision. Fluent cascades of words and argument clattered about everywhere, Patricia Cornwell, Agatha Christie, Asterix were all examined. A John Grisham book was thumped back into the shelf.

No, no, no, no! A husband offered a possibility. But, no!

Two husbands went outside and stood with their shoulders raised against the shop. A wife tapped the glass, and they swayed but did not turn around. They looked across the road.

There were so many conversations. So many books. So many opinions. Somebody brought some books to the counter and said, ‘We’re from Holland!’

Then it was time to go. The husbands were shouted for, ‘The train, the train.’

When the last person had gone, it was quiet.

 

Painting by Kenne Gregoire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best things to have in a bookshop by Claudia Kirby, aged 9

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  1. Good books for reading.
  2. Teddy bears around the shop to hold the books.
  3. A few chairs for sitting in case you don’t want to stand up reading.
  4. Bookmarks for the books so you know where you’re up to.
  5. Business cards to say who you are.
  6. Decorations that are awesome, like peacocks.
  7. Bookends to hold stuff up.
  8. Old interesting books for people who like vintage.
  9. Books with interesting titles such as A Series of Unfortunate Events.
  10. A bookshop looks good with some fairy lights.

 Claudia Kirby, aged 9

That’s just beaut!

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A customer ordered The Cathedral Builders by Jean Gimpel. This is because he had read The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and needed to know more. As much as possible. He told me about stone and stone blocks and builders and tools, the designing and carving and balancing and how they knew what to do with light, and about carving; that was just magic!

I said I’d try to find one. He said, that was beaut, that with the internet and everything it was marvelous what books you could find these days. He couldn’t wait to get it, he’d read about it, how it was the best one to explain how cathedrals were built. He asked me to please post it to Cummins, that he was going home to his farm and had a lot of stone breaking to do. That anyone who said there was no stone in the ground at Cummins was wrong, it was everywhere. He had some long days ahead of him, probably wouldn’t be off the tractor until 8pm for a while but that still left a bit of daylight for reading about cathedrals.

Marble carving by Mathew Simmonds