1. It was busy. It was excellent: the antique fair was on, and the town was full of visitors from all over the place, some even from Bairnsdale, who were collecting old things and who wanted a copy of Moby Dick. But I didn’t have one.
They said, ‘Never mind. There’s always tomorrow, ‘and I agreed.
2. There was a knotty commotion outside the door when a family emerged from a car and couldn’t quite get themselves to the bakery.
‘What are you doing Jasmin?’ A young voice, low and outraged. ‘What are you doing?’
I couldn’t see or hear Jasmin. I only heard about her. The brother’s voice sounded again.
‘No. I’m not even kidding. Friggin hell.’
Then I heard Jasmin.
‘Get lost Shaun.’
‘You get lost.’
‘Come over here mate.’ That was dad, who laid a settling hand on Shaun’s shoulders. Shaun said urgently, ‘I’m not even kidding.’
‘I know.’ They disappeared slowly to the bakery, Jasmin hopping behind. She had on a bright red beanie.
3. Someone asked me for Nina George books: ‘I’m looking for the Paris bookshop lady.’ Someone asked me for James Bond books: ‘I’m looking for James Bond.’
4. A young couple piled books into the bottom of their pram, the baby bumping slightly while the volumes were being arranged. They explained to me: ‘We’re making a library.’
5. Outside the door, a teenager said, ‘Where too Pop?’ and then, looking at his phone, followed Pop to the bakery.
6. ‘That’s the second time in Strathalbyn.’ An old lady said this to a friend as they looked through my window. They didn’t look happy. Then one lady said, ‘Look at her sitting at the desk.’ Her friend said, ‘Oh yes. I see.’
7. There was constant clicking and tapping and rustling from the back room. A man opened the door and said to me, ‘It’s ok, I’m just looking for a very distracted lady.’ The clicking and tapping from the back room abruptly stopped and a lady yelled out: ‘I’m here Alan, you go on.’
‘Thank you very much, I will.’ And he did. He crossed the road in sudden sunlight, swinging a bag and his head from side to side.
8. A man looking at books in front of me suddenly looked around and said, ‘My dad was a pilot.’ Then he turned back to the shelf. I felt as though I’d missed a bit of conversation somewhere.
9. Somebody rang for a book I didn’t have. Outside a motorist sounded a horn for a long angry 15 seconds. Inside a lady said, ‘God I hate that.’ Then Sarah dropped in. She’s very pleased with her doctor at the moment but not with the crowds in the town. She said in a glum way, ‘These crowds.’ Then Robert came by, but his order is lost in transit somewhere. He said, ‘Typical Australia useless post.’
10. The town emptying out. More rain, then sparkly sunlight. The last stragglers with coffee and not hurrying. Dog wee on the front of my shop as usual.
Illustration by Bill Bruning