Yvonne continues to look in the door of the shop most mornings and ask me how the babies are. I tell her they are growing and happy. She always says: Well that’s the thing isn’t it!
When Morgan looks at his infant son, his son looks at him and they exchange evidence that each now lives for the other. Noah’s face is too small to hold in all the joy. And that’s the thing.
Outside the shop there is a father securing a sheepdog in the back of the ute. The son, about 8, stands patiently by. He asks his dad if he can get an icecream and a hero disk. His dad says: yep, soon as I tie in Baily. The son balances on the edge of the gutter and puts one finger on Baily’s nose to help and his dad says: well done. The child smiles. And that’s the thing.
Once a boy told me that he was 10 years old and going to read Brisingr. He asked his dad if he could get him Brisingr and his dad said yes. Then the child made a good joke: he said – can you get me a dragon? And his dad said: maybe… and the child laughed darkly to himself. And that’s the thing.
Joe visited two days ago to pick up his Charmian Clift book and said that he has had a win. That he kept every book he ever had on making furniture, but nobody wanted them. So he asked his son if HIS son, an apprentice cabinet maker might like them, and his son said: he won’t want them, just chuck them dad.
But Joe called his grandson himself and the boy said: I’ll be down on Saturday, Grandpa, keep them for me. Joe said: I’ve had a win.! And that’s the thing!
Dale’s dad told him that he should read history as it occurs. Dale said that he just wanted to read Skulduggery, all ten of them in the right order. His dad argued for the reading of history (as it occurs), but they left with five Skulduggery books and no history and Dale was happy. He carried all the books himself. And that’s the thing.
Small things are always the thing.
An older couple came in with their grandchildren, a girl and also a boy, slightly older. They often come in, all of them are avid readers.
They always, all of them get to choose one book each. She chose some Australian outback history and he had an art book. The small girl had an important pony book with silver stars on the front and her brother had a Derek Landy: Last Stand of Dead Men. He told me that there are ten books in this series. But when they came to the counter, Grandpa found his wallet quite empty and he stared, incredulous. He said: you took my money!
His wife agreed that she had. She needed it and so she took it. The children raised themselves on tiptoe, thrilled with the travesty. He found a mere $5 in his outraged back pocket. So Grandma would have to pay the rest. But now, because of this, Grandpa would get nothing at the bakery.
Her grandchildren gazed at her in adoration. Then they all filed out to the bakery. The children were buoyant, they floated. The pony book held them afloat. Last Stand of Dead Men was held aloft. And Best Of All now was the bakery. They would have a doughnut and possibly fanta. Grandma would have a cup of tea and a dull cake. But Grandpa! He would get nothing. They all left the shop, delighted.
A boy, aged about 11 came into the shop and greeted me by name although I did not know who he was.
He said: well I’m just a book reader, I just like all books. So, I’m just a book fan and I love Doctor Who. My mum says I can get any book I will read over and over again, I always read my books again until I get sick of them. Then I don’t anymore.
He went away and crouched down to examine science fiction on the bottom shelves and then came back to the counter.
I just read them over, you know, over and over like that. Like Dr who and other stuff, like about stallions and also Harry Potter. I have read them all seven times. I get into bed and then make a place and just read for ages, I like Skulduggery, I would read those again. I like old books.
He hopped from foot to foot as he spoke and then went away into the back room for a while. When he came back he said: I like this old stuff, you would have to look after these, they have like different materials in them. They aren’t decorated like our books, back in the old day they couldn’t decorate. I really want this. I’m going to save for this, like anything. My mum will let me. Anyway I have to go now so see you later some other time probably.
Photography by Andrew Branch