– but that isn’t important.
Today I went to work in the shop. Al and Jean arrived at 8.30 and the Sage gave me a lift in a few minutes later (I couldn’t find my book and I worry if I am without a book. Hoho, what irony).
At 9 o’clock, the Sage called to us “they are unpacking boxfuls of books under the Buttercross*, you’d better go and have a look.”
I smilingly served a customer (more like baring my teeth really, I wanted to look at those books) and then scuttled out. Indeed, there were about ten boxfuls of books, some hardly read. The local second-hand bookshop proprietor was going through the books, picking out what he wanted, from right to left. I started at the left-hand box.
A few minutes later, ten books in my arm, I waved to the Sage “Can you bring my bag and I’ll pay”. “No, that’s all right, I’ll pay.” I went back to the shop, abashed to find there were five customers and Jean was alone. However, a happy face and effusive apologies have got me through life so far and everyone was understanding.
Not too long afterwards, the shop was empty again and the Sage came back. “They have unpacked four more boxes”…….
This time, Jean and I both went and the Sage stood guard in the shop. Nine books later, I spied a customer and returned happily to my duties, leaving my well-gotten gains with the chap in charge for the Sage to carry out negotiations. And he did well.
Now, the Sage doesn’t read for the pleasure of reading in itself. He is not obsessed with books. He does read quite a lot, but usually for information. He doesn’t really understand the great joy of seizing a book just because it catches the eye, because a randomly-read paragraph appeals, because it’s on a subject I know nothing about so maybe it’s about time I did, because it is, simply, a bookful of wonderful words**.
But he encouraged me nonetheless, although he thinks I am, frankly, daft to have as many books as I have already. And as a result I’ve smiled all day. Mm, maybe that has something to do with it.
*The Buttercross is the ancient marketplace. On Thursdays there are market stalls there. On Saturdays, for a small fee, a charity can set up a stall there (one has to book months in advance) to sell bric-a-brac, cakes, second-hand books, whatever, for its good cause).
**’The Pencil’ – a history of design and circumstance. Now, there’s a title. It has never occurred to me to wonder who, and how, and why, and when, invented the pencil.
‘Hand to Mouth’ – a Paul Auster I’ve not read. I’ve never quite made up my mind about Paul Auster, but somehow I read him.
Two books by Hanif Kureishi (My Beautiful Laundrette). I’ve read ‘The Buddha of Suburbia’ but that’s all.
‘Zorba the Greek’ – one of those books you assume you must have read, but haven’t.
A book called ‘Zoë’. What, because I’m worth it?
A biography of Maria Montessori.
And others. Quickly chosen, there will be hits and misses. And the misses can go back to the next charity booksale, to find a better home.