“Are you alright?”

“Are you alright?” asked the assistant as I wandered, deep in thought, through the large (chain) bookshop.

Why do I always get solicitous enquiries from bookshop assistants? For that matter, why do I always get solicitous enquiries from record shop assistants? (Perhaps, in the case of record shops, that should be past tense.)

“Can I help you?” “Are you looking for anything in particular?”

Perhaps I look lost. Perhaps I look confused. Perhaps I look as if I’m not really comfortable in book shops (and record shops.)

Usually, I’m just enjoying a hugely pleasurable wander, looking for a new title. It’s especially wonderful if I have a book token to spend.

Today I had a spare 45 minutes and had spotted ‘The Shepherd’s Crown’- Terry Pratchett’s last book. (That is if you don’t count the collaborations with Stephen Baxter, which, sadly, I don’t like, considering they are less than the sum of the two prodigious talents.) I had this morning considered buying it on Kindle and decided to wait for the paperback. There it was. To cap it all, it had a “Buy one, get one half price” sticker.

You can guess the rest. I went round and round looking for a second book. It’s soooo tempting…. and I succumbed. I went for science fiction- ‘Europe at Midnight’ by Dave Hutchinson. I got it home and found it’s a sequel. (Read it? Or buy the first book?)

Did I explain all this to my kind enquirer? (I should point out that I don’t object to service like this- and I had a lovely chat about computers with the lady at the till. I just find it a bit puzzling as to why they think I need help.)

No, I didn’t explain. I just told him I was having a wander.



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