A Topping corner

You’ve probably seen them somewhere. University age or slightly older, very full of themselves, and in towns like St Andrews most often from across the Atlantic. They talk a lot, and they are oblivious to the rest of the world. They are so cool and intellectual, and no one else has ever been quite so cool, or clever.

I happened upon a pair of them yesterday, in Topping’s. This is a lovely shop, which looks just as you’d want a bookshop to look like. But it’s cramped, and the aisles are narrow. Very charming.

Being me, I obviously headed towards the children’s books corner, where the picture books got some attention before I turned to the older children’s books, and then the YA section. There were three people there, all in the way.

The one I minded the least was a member of staff, who moved off to do other shelving tasks when she saw me waiting to access the YA shelves. But those other two… There they were, standing right into the corner, chatting away in their earnest, intellectual, transatlantic way. They were so cool.

And they were standing in what they might have felt was the most unwanted corner of the shop. In which case they did have some awareness of other customers. Or they were simply standing. In my way.

I could wait. I’d had a little sit-down first, so had the strength to wait until they noticed me, apologised and moved off. Except they didn’t.

I pondered suggesting they could toddle off to the opposite corner, which was empty. Would that have been very rude? Anyway, I didn’t. I stood there until they finally left. I craned my neck this way, and that way, and did everything I could to indicate that I had not also accidentally taken up residence in the YA area.

This is the beauty of old age. One becomes invisible. And the wonderful thing is they have no idea that not only will they also grow old one day, but I am, or have been, at least as intellectual as them.

And my apologies to Topping’s, but I will head to Waterstones, which won’t be quite so highbrow and exciting.

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