From the end of a till conversation.

Anyway, I don't think I want you to order it for me, she says. I know the author, I've played bridge against her many times and she gave me an invite to her last book launch, but I had tickets for centre court at Wimbledon. But I read it anyway, and then, in my usual way I told her what I thought, which was that it thought it was pornographic, which it was, and which she denied. Anyway, that caused a bit of a cooling in our relations, but there you are.

Picks up a calendar she is purchasing, the Japanese paint such beautiful cats, don't you think?

There is a man standing at the counter asking for a copy of the Joy of Sex.

He has long blonde hair and is wearing a straw pork-pie hat.

He is also wearing a very short see-through net mini skirt, has an exposed midriff and a pair of unlikely tits.

The last copy I owned was eleven pounds, he tells me.

I study my computer screen. I tell him that we do not have a copy and that the new edition to be published in July will cost twenty pounds.

Twenty pounds, he says.

I am looking at the floor. Yes I say.

Why is that? he asks.

I look at my hands. I suppose it must be a coffee table edition, I tell him.

A coffee table edition? he says.

Yes, I say. I look at the ceiling.

Why? he asks, Why must they always meddle with things?

I know, I say.

Pah! he says then and adopts a flounce.

I watch him as he walks out onto the street proudly, head held high, swinging a handbag and I notice that it has started to rain.

There is a man staring at me.

He is standing in front of the till staring.

Can I help you? I ask him.

He shakes his head and stares.

You've been here a long time? he says.

Yes, I say.

I was just remembering, he says, I used to come in here and buy my Goosebump books.

You did? I say.

I did, he says, and you were here then too.

I was, I say.

And that, he says, was a long time ago.