Wednesday 31 January 2001

what are we looking for when we enter a bookshop? borders on charing cross road, what does it promise us? i loiter outside, peering through the window, finishing the cigarette i shouldn't be having. jamie oliver's eyes stare back at me, his jaw bulging over a blue and white hawaiian shirt. he looks perky, relaxed, confident. pukka. i see the domestic goddess book is reduced to 9.99. stupid cake on the front, plump and warm like a promise. i've done that, cakes and pies, quiches, date slices; i've baked bread, for fuck's sake.

'i wish you were my woman', shawn said, as we leant on the popcorn counter together. the customers were watching their film and it was just us, in our pink shirts, filling up the ice bucket, counting the pepsi cups, shuffling ticket stubs, sweeping the carpets. i had pepper and avocado sandwiches in a tupperware box. i'd made the bread myself. when i told him he said 'i wish you were my woman', hands cupped in the air, eyes lifted, mouth open, smiling, admiring. the bread was chewy and laden with sunflower seeds. crammed heavy and flat in my mouth like wet sand.

i don't make bread these days.

why am i here? i don't need books. i'm halfway through a fat book on internet communities. i'm still struggling through the nabakov short stories that fill me with guilt and love and desire for details; to have that eye, that flickering roving eye that rests on nothing and takes in everything. i need nothing new to read. so why am i here?

i walk through the shop; pause briefly near the calenders; take out the phone; text something short and meaningless to a friend. i turn right, towards the magazines. i pick up mondo, the new shiny men's mag. i read the article on tights. it's so shiny, this magazine, it leaves me hungy. i'm not in this magazine. i don't see myself here at all. i need--

i need a book. i want to gorge on stories. i need someone else's mind; mine's no fun at all. i walk to the back of the store, through fiction, (bukowski, nah, done him; amis, nooo, too blokey; woolf, nope, could get in cheap in secondhand shop) to the always-crap underground writing section. it's next to the lesbian and gay section.

as i walk past, a man in a beige coat, which is puffy yet flaccid like a paper bag in the rain, looks up at me. does he think i'm gay? some of the books in the gay section have interesting titles. an afternoon in staten island. days in my butt. transgendered desire. i pull them out, run a finger down their shiny spines. they're not about me.

i'm looking for me in the bookshop.

i study a tiny book about text messages. a ltl bk of txt msgs. is that me? nuances nabakov would have conveyed in a page, two pages, a novel; cut down to 3 characters? vocabulary: shrinking? mind: shrinking? soul: shrinking? is that me, on this rainy Tuesday night?

yeah, that's me. shrinking, drinking, texting, smoking. I should be baking. I light another fag I don't need, and walk out.

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