The day was sunny, but I was sulky. This had to do with my usual reading table being occupied, as well as my back up reading table. Making do with a different view and some less than satisfactory light and shooing away a work colleague who wanted to chat on a day off, I settled down to my book, accompanied by a pint of mediocre bitter.
The book in question was Hugh Thomas‘, The Conquest of Mexico. This is a weighty tome detailing how the Spanish came to the Americas and into great depth on the titular conquest itself.
I slowly became aware of a chap in my peripheral vision who seemed to be bobbing up and down whilst facing my direction. In the end I made the mistake of looking. He was stood up but was contorting his body in an uncomfortable manner in an attempt to read the title on the spine of my book.
Making eye contact – a big mistake – he decided this was an invitation to join me. Amiable as I was back in the day, I was happy to chat with someone who showed an interest in books. The conversation started well as he commented not many people read in pubs, especially in our town.
The next forty-five minutes were, bizarrely, taken up with a conversation about the Incas despite the guy leafing through the book, not to mention my repeated references to the text, the Aztecs and the remnants of the Maya, and to Mexico, itself.
After that reading there was never the same and I found myself a new regular reading pub where nobody showed the least interest in books or myself, which was bliss.