This excellent question from a family in front of me. I am following them back to my shop. The father and three children move fast, the children hopping and pouncing and asking questions.
‘Is Bridgewater a town, or a place?’
The father explained. ‘It’s a town, like this one.’
‘I know that place, there’s a circus there.’
‘Well, maybe not.’
‘Wasn’t there a circus there?’
‘Don’t think so.’
‘But I remember it, that person did cartwheels and spins.’
‘Is Bridgewater not a town?’
‘Want me to do a cartwheel?’
The children are fast, disappearing through the sunlight, the father only just keeping up, and they were almost at the bakery.
‘Dad, when you’re at work, we sleep in your bed.’
I saw the father go still, look down at them, delighted.
And then they turned the corner, gone.
Artwork by Pascal Campion
A young man came into the shop, fervent, purposeful. He stood at the front, agitated, and looking at me. Then he asked me for a book by its title: did I have it; did I know it, had I read it??
But I hadn’t.
He said in a low and significant voice: this book proves that the world is flat.
I said: oh wow.
He said: it’s an important book.
I said: oh wow.
He asked me if I might find a copy. I looked on the internet while he paced and sighed and wondered and I did find one. I said: it looks like an interesting book.
He corrected me: it’s a true book.
I offered to get it in for him and he flung the required money onto the counter, ecstatic.
He said: the world is flat. The world is fucking flat.
He went off to roam the rest of the shelves, not a single book of which contained the correct information regarding the shape of the planet. But he was respectful; he handled the books with reverence. He was particularly gentle with a copy of The Wind in the Willows.
He said: my sister had this book.
Then he added sadly: but people get annoyed with me, for things, you know…