Noah leans back.

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It is nearly the last day of our holiday and we are having lunch, by the sea, in summer, in the heat, under cool glass and next to the blue. Morgan and I have chosen mussels, I remember these from a year ago and they made me happy so I have ordered them again, mussels in shells, a thousand of them, too many, whirling in tomato and garlic and other things with chilli, red wine maybe. I am wondering if the chilli will be real and it is because when we lift the lid, the steam comes out angrily and the chillies lie there, amongst the mussels, obscene and arrogant and not knowing their proper place, perfect.
We are elbow deep in mussels and shells and ciabatta bread and there is too much food and too much sky through the windows and the babies are hooting and eating things and Noah is at the end of the table, between his parents, supreme amongst food and family and spoons and forks and garlic bread.
He and his baby cousin Max are hurling things to the floor and gazing open mouthed at the response from family, they are filing away the satisfying response from family.
I cannot eat any more food, but there is still too much food waiting to be eaten. I can only stare at everyone else. Family, ordinary and ordinary but still defying understanding.
Morgan, is gone, lost in the mussel pot, the good cold beer and hunger, and his son, Noah, is leaning back superbly into the armchair of summer, and his parents gaze over at the floor and the scattered food and the toys and they look down at all of this with joy.

The House of Brie

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It is September and it is warming up. Passers-by are not so huddled and they do not walk by so fast. They stand in the sun and look through the shop window.

A couple came into the shop and bought Alice in Wonderland for their daughter and a Star Wars novel for their son.

They said: Well, this is great, this book being blue, also with summer coming and everything.

Outside there are young people leaning against the wall, the warm wall.

Robert visited and said he wouldn’t look around because he knows what will happen to him: he will be ambushed by some book on the Ancients and at the moment he just needs to pay his AGL bill, even though they don’t deserve to be paid. He also said that the Thames and Hudson Art and Imagination Series is the best thing he’s ever seen.

I am asked for dozens of obscure titles, the sun is warming up everybody’s old reading lists.

A little boy sent his grandmother to the shop to with a pirate book reading list. There were hand drawn illustrations on the list to make sure she got the right books. She said: he always makes me these lists.

I take longer going down the street because I want to stay in the sun, so does everybody else.

An older couple spend ages looking at a copy of Pinocchio.

I am asked if I think Harry Potter is a suitable series for a young person.

A man buys three very worn out cartoon books and tells me they are brilliant but his wife says they are stupid.

Down the street I see Alan, buying wine and beer. Alan is Swiss and has the fabulous Swiss accent. He is gloomy because he grows his own vegetables but his wife said they are all shit and just bought a lettuce from Woolies. He looked at the brie I had bought and said I must leave it out of the fridge for at least ten days before eating it, as is proper for brie.

I said: maybe.

He said: then you pack it into a good house of  bread, cuddle it up with roasted garlic, a square of butter over the top and bake it. It is the proper way.

I said I was going home to make it.