Saturday, 17 January 2009

Café day.

The man on the next table sat down, wrenched open his bag and snatched out a thick book. Not cheap crime fiction, this, but something altogether weightier. You can tell by the paper. He sat on the edge of his seat, leaning forward over the little plastic table, and ripped it open - still wearing his outdoor clothes. It flopped to reveal a Tweetie Pie bookmark in purple and yellow, and he impatiently pulled at the pages, throwing Tweetie aside and finding his place. Then, twiddling his glasses restlessly, he began to read.

I was envious of him. I have had that feeling myself; the urgency and need to read, to know, to understand. To be so involved with a story that the everyday world feels faint - the words on the page become so much more real. Ah. He closed the book: it is revealed as War and Peace, which I've never actually read. Never really felt inclined to - very long, C19th serialised novel in translation? All turn offs. But berhaps now I'll pick it up, having seen the effect it had on someone. Ha - this guy's fickle. He put down the Tolstoy and picked up Words of Mercury by Patrick Leigh Fermor, of whom I've never heard but who sounds interesting from the Wikipedia article. It seems he is erudite. Which is hardly surprising in this city. Slouching over his seat and peering over his glasses, he'd be an attractive Cambridge arty type, if I found Cambridge arty types attractive. The slack-jawed vacancy of his reading face and the uncontrollable fidgeting offset the self-conscious brown cords and tweed jacket and make him altogether more likable.


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