Japanese sing-song speech and occasional timers, gentle jazz, meandering chit-chat.
Headphones on, Bluetooth hooked up, air gaps all over the place and deliberately misplaced, off the ear to mix the sound sources. I do not generally listen to podcasts, but have made an exception for Craig Mod's SW945, a daily binaural recording from somewhere in Japan.
Chapter's coming and going, like houses on wheels. I am the characters and the author and the Reader but which reader is the I? From bookshops to bustling kitchens, I can hear utensils clinking and can smell coffee coming from somewhere not too far away.
My copy of Calvino's If On A Winter's Night A Traveler
came from Oxfam for £2. It's a 1993 hardback edition with a ribbon for a bookmark and the Everyman logo stamped, in faint yellow, onto the endpapers. It smells of linen and there's a handwritten message to 'Matt' at the front.
I flick between pages and the vanilla cake and the flat white and the glass of water in front of me. Coffee blends into music slides into raspberry cream and background hubbub touches the the back of my tongue. Rare to relax in a cafe like this.
It's a curious feeling, listening to the sounds of a remote cafe within the immediate confines of another cafe, while the senses are fooled further by the dreams and imagery that a story brings. None of the worlds feel real, but layered like this, all of them bleed into another so it's impossible to tell which reality is augmenting any of the others.
The podcast comes to an end just as I finish the chapter.