Max falls asleep

2017-07-03 18.05.50.jpg

Max has been handed a bottle of warm milk. He plays: handles it upside down and sideways, puts milk everywhere and sometimes drinks a little. He is not hungry and so is easily distracted; his eyes record an orange ping pong ball rolling on the floor nearby and he is lured by its perfect journey across the hard floor. He allows a mouthful of milk a return passage back onto the teat. There is a red towel collapsed nearby, his eyes cannot get past it. But finally he can leave the red towel. His eyes journey from point to point, from colour to noise, then to some other outstanding sensation that must be examined. The warm milk flows tidily down his neck. His hands starfish up and down the flank of the bottle, he grasps and clutches  and sings a steady hum of satisfaction. Then suddenly, he is asleep.

Advertisements

How astonishing, when the lights of health go down…

ray-hennessy-139968

There is rain coming in the shop door, at last, rain for our winter. It’s cold but at least it is there.

Yvonne called out exuberantly: keep warm. She indicated her little dog Marco; he had two coats on.

Robert is excited because two more of his Art and Imagination series have arrived and these will keep his mind off Telstra. He said that Telstra do not care about him, an old man, a pensioner and they would cut him off from the world. Then he admitted that to be cut off from the world is exactly what he wants as then he can continue the book he is writing, but without electricity, because nobody here can afford THAT anymore.

I told him about Virginia Woolf because I want to tell someone about her.

He agrees that she was a pioneer and a stand-alone.

Dion is here and observes that everyone is feeling the cold, which doesn’t help. He has been sick for most of his life. And he says he is going to give up smoking again. Robert said that nobody is going to take his smokes away and then they both leave, back to their tricky lives.

A woman brings in some books to the shop but I am unable to take any more books. Her parents have both died of cancer and she must clear their library. She goes back outside and sits in her car for a long time.

A young visitor is examining Vargic’s Miscellany of Curious Maps and he looks at me and asks: how do they draw these maps…? There is a dispute on the corner outside the shop again. Motorists cannot agree on the courtesies of the intersection and there are voices, horns… the visitor replaces the map book and  leaves to view better the argument.

There is a small boy looking out at the rain through the door.

There are two tradesmen out on the footpath eating from paper bags and they are examining the sky and making predictions. They say that it won’t last.

Alex tells me that her Tupperware party was not so good because nobody came. She buys a copy of The Mandarins by Simone De Beauvoir.

A young man asked me for Inside the Spaceships by George Adamski. He said it is a true account of an abduction by aliens and he asks in every bookshop if there is a copy. But I don’t have one.

Another reader asks for Patrick Suskind’s Perfume.

John brings me a copy of Inferno by Dan Brown to read. He is struggling to walk now.

 

Photography by Ray Hennessy

 

“Consider how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul…”

Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill

That’s the thing!

18945253_1686812931359313_1010628550_n

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 his 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 haven’t I! 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 10 of them in the right order. His dad argued for the reading of history (as it occurs) but they left with 5 Skulduggery books and no history and Dale was very happy. He carried all the books himself. And that’s the thing.

Small things are always the things.

The Small Pottery Bird

azn0htp7vfa-nathan-anderson

An old lady came in and showed me a little pottery bird she had just bought in a second hand shop. It was not a beautiful bird. She handled the small pottery bird like this; she tipped it forward and stroked the beak. Then she tipped it over and examined the flat plate of the underneath. Then she outlined the dents of the wings with her thumbs and looked at it with such delight I thought it might come alive. I could now see that it was a beautiful bird. She fitted the bird into one hand and looked at its eyes. She told me it was the nicest thing she had ever seen. Then she bought a copy of Ring of Bright Water and said goodbye.

Small Things Like Shapes

img_20160730_130246

A child said to me that he likes my lantern because he likes small things like shapes. He said that when he looked into the glass he could see cars going past and that the cars looked better in the lantern than they did going along the road as real cars. His mother said to him that there were some Beast Quest books on the shelf and he said: maybe.

She said there are also some Star Wars and he said: maybe.

A lady was pleased to see a copy of The Elegance of the Hedgehog. She said it is on her to read list which has a thousand books on it already. She said it is quite wearying. She did not see the lantern.

It is Australia Day. The family with the small boy who likes shapes are across the road, they have been to the bakery. The father is trying to interest the child in some food but he is standing with his nose pressed against the fir tree, he must be looking at more shapes. The father looks weary. The child drops the paper bag on the ground and looks down at the spilt food. He makes binoculars with his fists and looks down at the broken food. His knees are bent with concentration. The parents are having an argument.

On the pavement, outside my shop, a man has opened his esky on the pavement and there is no ice. His wife asks him why he can’t even pack an esky properly. He raises both hands in the air and stands there motionless but she has got back into the car. Then she locks all the doors.

I wonder if anyone will come in for a book today. But then I remember that the small boy who likes shapes had chosen a book called Pharaoh’s Boat which had pyramids on the front.