This reader has been visiting for years. He always came with his wife, but now he comes alone. They both loved to read. They always bought a stack. They would look at me over the top of the stack and say, ‘Oh yes, it’s the first of the..…’, and then forget what they were saying. Distracted.
This time, he came to the shop alone. He carried a shopping bag, empty.
He is short sighted. He bends over the art books, lifts them close to read the titles. He always did this, I remember it.
He came to the counter to talk about Seneca the Younger. He loves the ancient Romans, the ancient Greeks. The Persians. The mathematicians. The astronomers. He breathes out all the names. There is so much to read. He has a copy of The Mikado in his hands, elegant, slim, green. He looks down at it, ‘Yes, yes, this, you know…’, and then he forgets what he was going to say, lost in Titipu.
This is what happens. We step into Titipu. We go down and down; there’s no stopping it. We can end up anywhere.
He has a stack. He places them on the counter, says, ‘I always find some things…’ He also has The Complete Father Brown and Wind in the Willows. He presents the shining coins.
Then he leaves, wrapped against the winter in brown scarf and beanie, corduroy pants and the good strong shopping bag full of Titipu.
The Steps of Montmatre, Paris 1936 by Brassai (1899- 1984)