Friday, September 02, 2005


Been thinking about bookshops.

I got to go to my favourite bookshop today, maybe my favourite place in the whole town. I don't know what it is about the place that I like. There's the staff, who besides being pleasant and happy to be there seem actually to give a damn about reading and writing. There is the selection - it's practically impossible to go in there and find a book you could hold up and say "Look, this is shite - what were you thinking?". It's a potent form of flattery - the entire environment is set up to tell you that you are an intelligent, cultured person who loves but is selective about his/her reading...and you end up acting like that.

You know, most commmercial intercourse I carry out in some kind of dissociative fugue. When I'm low I don't want to interact with the people behind the counter. I feel nervous when they smile broadly at me, greet me as if I have not seen them for long months. I resent their best wishes and bonhomie. I am not their friend, and at some level I resent the assumption that I am stupid enough to think that someone smiling at me cares if I live or die. I don't want closeness, I don't want to feel at home, I want a bloody sandwich.

But I feel some kind of comfort in that bookshop.

And comfort was what I went there for. To be honest, I went for succour and sanctuary, because all day I had been persecuted by demons. Or maybe these truly terrifying demons.

Specifically the demons of car trouble, misplacing wallets, leaving lunches in the fridge and workplace stress. Plus four of the temptations to mortal sins and a good couple of hundred of the venial.

Anyway, had a brief snippet of a conversation with someone I've always thought said interesting things. I can't quite remember who said what, but I said something about wanting a book that would cheer me up and she suggested a couple of books, and I found one I'd been looking for, and I said "well, better than lithium", and she said "tastes better, too." And I looked at her, and I said "You got that right", and then I probably sortof stared in some daft "I'm thinking" way and I gave her the blog address (with a plea to pass it on to the guy who works there, someone else who makes you comfortable with being interested in books).

Anyway, it would be easy to read too much into this. There isn't an international fraternity of bipolar people: I've known very few. A good friend of mine who may be doing medicine next year. Another medical student a few years back, doing GP now, I believe. Some girl from high-school who went mad and went away, this friend of my sister's who was either bipolar or just unable to stop taking speed... I don't know. I have one close friend with it, a few lapsed aquaintances, and that's it.

But I don't know. I think I imagined that cameraderie (and I know that I may have got things 100% wrong), because I wanted it. It'd be good to just chat, not a full on thing, just a "how was it for you, what worked, what didn't, isn't that guy in the Royal a wanker?". Doesn't matter if I was wrong or right, because I'm not the walk-up-to-someone-and-say "Excuse me, I was just wondering if you had ever been certifiably insane" kind of person. I'm shy at the best of times.

But there was that sudden glancing up, that quick attentiveness, that wanting not to be alone.


Anyway. The more I think of it, the more likely it seems that it's me seeing something that wasn't there. She didn't look mad - she's fairly slim, so I don't reckon she could have the strength of ten men. She wasn't working on some plan for an interstellar drive. I reckon I have to go in there in a few weeks to pick up something - "The Swimmer", I think, a cheery set of tales about the spiritual emptiness of modern folk - and it's going to be just as it was.

Comfortable. Honest. Best bookshop in the city.

Thanks for listening,


Anonymous Camilla said...

The bookshop what? The bookshop what?????

9:58 PM  
Blogger Bronze John said...

Sorry, still trying to get used to the keyboard commands here.

And a virus has devoured all my bookmarks - can you send me your address again?


10:52 PM  
Blogger Foilwoman said...

One quick queston: Isn't "a Royal wanker" a redundancy? If they're Royal, aren't they wankers as a matter of course? Res ipsa loquitur.

11:07 PM  
Blogger Chade said...

Ah good old MM's. It's a great thing to be able to go there and not have to worry about the sales staff directing you towards the latest fluff. Instead they'll ask what you're looking for and guide you to some excellent choices.

9:29 AM  
Blogger Bronze John said...

Now that's a bit harsh. There have been some decent, deeply non wankery royals in history, like... that guy.

You may be right.


5:56 PM  
Blogger Bronze John said...

But they can't compare with your local shops when it comes to shootin' and rootin' magazines... seriously, my sympathies. Not long to go.

6:04 PM  

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