People want the sun

Victor Ngai The Day

 

There’s not much space outside the shop because there are tradesmen out there, and hard at it. Ladders, paint pots, shouting, traffic cones, a hat thrown down, a bottle of coke, one cake tin. Passers by make comments.

‘Good job.’

‘Looking good.’

‘Good day for it.’

One man crashed through my door backwards, still in conversation with the painter outside.

He said to me, ‘Sorry about the door, you’ll get a new one won’t you!’ His wife looked at him and he went back outside.

On old lady edges around the painter’s van, trying to find a spot to finish her coffee. She says, ‘Don’t mind me.’

People want the sun.

‘A bookshop! Well!’ These two ladies paused to admire me, a miracle. One man bought a book about Mannum to post to his grandkids ‘in the outback’.

The takings for the Strath show tickets are picked up. The lady says, it’s nice out in the sun.

Alan puts his head in to say, G’day mate. (He’s going home for a curry).

My mum brings me a block of chocolate to take home for the family, which I eat here.

The painter is leaning against a post in the sun, shouting into his phone, ‘I’m having a record day, I’ll read it in a minute, just send it again’.

There’s a family stranded in the middle of the road, and a truck showers them with outraged beeps. They all stare as it goes by, and the driver stares down at them. A lady in here says the council should do something about that.

The painter is still shouting into the sunlight, ‘I’m having a record day.”

 

Artwork by Victor Ngai

 

Gin and Tonic

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A man came into the shop and told me that he is reading Henry Miller as an experiment. That he was documenting his own reading as a history of his own reading and so far it was amazingly erratic.

His little girl said: ohhhhh is Henry here?

A young man said: I am going to read the Harvard Classics. The whole lot, all 51 books, I saw them in a list and they are all very important: He was pushing a pram with an infant daughter beaming from inside,  watching as he found a copy of The Pilgrim’s Progress and Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species.

He was hoping to get His Autobiography by Abraham Lincoln as this is the first one in the list but was content with the others instead. He angled the pram out expertly, his books stacked on the top along with a copy of Possum Magic, the first volume of Baby’s Harvard Classics.

An old lady came in with her friend and saw me drinking from a water bottle. One of them asked me if it was a gin and tonic.

But I had to tell her that it was just water.

She said that the river in The Wind and the Willows was just water too…

It is September but visitors are already thinking about Christmas, they argue over books, intending to gift them to that family member or this family member. One boy said: dad, don’t get it, that book is shit. He won’t want it.

A lady bought two Asterix books, one for each grandchild. She was laughing and laughing, she said that Asterix is just so funny.

Another old lady tells me that motorcycles should not be allowed in Strathalbyn anymore.

The steam train comes in, the bakery is busy, the street is warm, three young boys pass the window with skate boards on their heads. There is an altercation between small dogs tied up outside and the owner comes in and tells me that he wished he had not brought the bloody dogs down the street, but his wife makes him. And have I got a copy of Spartan Gold by Clive Cussler?