celebrating and creating our own LGBTQ+ history in honour of Sheila McWattie

Blog Archives


day two

On Tuesdays she went to the bookshop.

It was what she wanted to do, where she wanted to be, where she felt excited, thrilled, perturbed, or where she felt safe. She loved to lose herself among the dusty pages. The smells intoxicated her. The calm and the detachment thrilled her. She could be alone. She could be surrounded by people. She could be a muse, she could be a whore, she could be a duchess, she could be a hunter, she could be a queen, she could fall in love. She could go to a party, she could walk in the wilderness, she could attend Royal court, she could drink in a speakeasy. All she had to do was pick up a book, open the first page and it would begin. Some days she would look for something that suited her mood, some days she would simply pick up the first volume that came to her hand. The freedom invigorated her. She loved the random sense that she never knew where she would end up, never knew what adventure would ensue, what journey she would go on.

It wasn’t a chain bookstore, all clean and sterile. This was Old Man Thomas’ bookshop. He rarely lifted a duster, or ran round a hoover. Sometimes, when you lifted a book, you had to brush or blow the dust off. There were no well-heeled, skinny decaf drinking, schmucks. No life-sized models of children’s book characters. No cheery, sickly sweet, but slightly vacuous sales assistants, that could just as well be working in any other ‘trendy’ shop.

The hardest part was putting the books back. If she found a book that she really liked, she could always come back to it next week, but that didn’t stop her wanting to put it in her bag and take it home. Some days she just didn’t want to leave and would sit, reading, lost in whichever world she found herself, until she was ushered out.

Kelly Tonks, 40, Folkestone