In the circumstances

Wednesday October 13, 2004

Photobooth, Boston, Oct 13,'04
Four faces of me

To Boston today to visit the photo-booth in Woolworths for new id snaps for my disabled driver badge which is due for renewal. “Don’t forget to smile,” the friendly woman hidden inside the machine said. Never have managed a decent smile in those circumstances so I faked an expression of mild amusement. It wasn’t so bad.

As a reward I gave myself a treat by calling into Costa Coffee and breakfasting on espresso and a toasted pastrami and turkey club sandwich. It was too bleak to sit outside so I claimed a small table in the window and watched the world go by while I munched and sipped by turns. My phone bleeped and there was a text message from Graham. So I put on my reading spectacles and sat thumbing out a response.

Across the way from Costa Coffee there is a new Ottaker’s bookshop I’d yet to visit. Why not? I plodded across, discovered that the poetry section was upstairs and creaked my way up one step at a time only to be confronted with a sign proclaiming ‘Customer Lift’ [escalator]. Hey ho.

The ‘poetry section’ was pathetic. I have far more books of poetry on my shelves than were evident here. Perhaps that’s unkind. I’ve had longer to build a collection. I found two fat paperback anthologies which promise to be interesting, both of them international assemblies from poets writing in the English language. What the hell. Time for another treat.

I took the lift back to the ground floor and walked out into the fresh air with some relief. Newly painted walls, new carpets and new books create an atmosphere that’s close to unbreathable. It’ll be better when the place has worn a bit more but it’ll never smell like a proper bookshop.

And then, home, via the supermarket and over the country roads. I propped the four-way sheet of passport-sized photographs up in the kitchen and looked at them. Not so bad, really. In the circumstances.


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