That’d be a good read

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People are looking in my windows again, reading the titles of the books aloud, passing  divine judgements.

‘Churchill: The End of Glory. God, look at him.’

‘Gandhi Before India. That’d be a good read.’

It’s cold outside. The leaves continue to slide in under the door. People walk to the bakery and take food back to their cars, lean against the doors, blinking at the warmth. Gaze at my displays.

‘I think they’re all new age books.’

‘Want to go in?’


Small groups cross the road cautiously, lighting up when they see the bakery open and only a small queue. They tap my window kindly on the way past.

‘It’s open again.’

Another pair talked loudly as they sped past.

‘And we went around and around all over the place, and then we said…. stuff it. Nothing’s open anyway…’

‘Fair enough.’

A couple come in and ask me for permission to browse. They showed me their hands as though for inspection. I said, ‘Yes, please do. Take your time (take a year).

Andrew, who is 92, picked up his copy of Exactly, and said that it’s a strange time right now, but he’s known worse.

A lady came in and went out again. She said to her husband, who was still browsing, that she was going for a large bun so they didn’t turn up empty handed. He didn’t answer.

Each time a car passes, sunlight strikes its windscreen and sends a brief oblong of light against my door. This heartbeat is interrupted only when someone walks past. Footsteps, a cluster of shoulders across the window, a cooling of the light, someone saying, ‘Come on, you don’t need any more books.’

But they do, and they come in and ask for Predator’s Gold by Philip Reeve or anything on mushrooms.

The Football Score


“Well, I can tell you about this guy, he’s an absolute funny guy, wrote the most amazing books about a discworld and then he died, just like that. Look at that picture of him, he has a wizard’s hat, always wore it when he was out.”

The two old men, swayed in front of my door, shoulder to shoulder, two friends, telling each other about all the books in the window. One of them was holding a radio, which was softly broadcasting the football. Suddenly they both stopped talking and looked down at the radio, concerned.

What was that he said?

No, it’s all right, all alright…the man holding the radio lifted a calming hand, don’t get up about it.

They turned back to the window and stared at Terry Pratchett, at Agatha Christie and at Winston Churchill. One of the men said: I never held with that fellow.

The other man said: no, that’s right.

Then they looked at all the children’s books, came up close to the window and said: look at all those kiddie’s books, good on them…good on all of them.

Then they turned away and went slowly up the street, looking down at the radio, at the football,  one man had his hand on his friend’s shoulder as they turned, possibly consoling him about the score.