Why won’t you ask me?

I’m in the Daunt Books on Marylebone high street. I have already swung my wet umbrella into the kindly-looking chap who works there. He has explained that they have an umbrella stand I am welcome to use. I think about explaining that I’m not entirely sure how to close my umbrella, but decide instead to stuff it still open into the stand. I’m sure he will think I am one of those exceptionally busy women who do not have time to faff about with minor things like closing umbrellas and brushing their hair etc. (I’m not sure, but I think someone has stolen my hairbrush).

I have a pleasant meander around the bookstore. I eavesdrop much too close to a couple who are looking at a book called ‘What we mean when we talk about love’. I think about telling them to not buy this book under any circumstances. I decide against it. I congratulate myself on my newfound discretion. I accidentally walk into a table covered with books. Several fall off. I walk away quickly.

I notice the kind salesguy is still there.  ‘Can I ask you a question please?’ ‘Of course.’ ‘You see these books? How do you decide which ones to put here, at the front?’ I think about making a sweeping hand gesture to show him what I mean, but decide it is wisest not to. The salesguy begins to explain the various market forces at work in Daunt Books. I realise that I don’t care. What I really wanted to ask him was, ‘do you know how many of these books I have read? These books here at the front desk, which you are clearly trying to promote? Go on, ask me!’ I realise the real reason I am in Daunt Books, wandering around wetly, knocking their books over and standing too close to other customers, is because I would like to show-off. Unfortunately, despite their excellent customer service, no one has asked me to point out how well-read I am, or asked my opinion on this Summer’s bestsellers. I realise the salesguy has stopped talking. Panicking, I clutch at the nearest book. ‘Is this entertaining?’ ‘Well, it’s about the Holocaust.’ I think my time for showing-off is over.

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