The book glares at me. ‘What do you take me for?’
‘It wouldn’t be the first time,’ I say. ‘Remember Paris?’
‘We agreed not to bring that up.’ The book turns away, muttering inaudible curses. It pretends to go on an ‘errand’ to another part of the house.
While it is out of the room I check over its packing. It is slight, to say the least.
Two pens (one of them red), some pencils, a rubber and sharpener, and a large wodge of typed poems.
The book has put its head round the door. ‘What are these?’ I ask.
‘Oh, those. Those are just…you know. I thought we could look at…you know, if.’
‘No, I don’t know.’
The book walks over to me, calm for once. ‘It’s nothing to worry about. I just thought.’ This is clearly as difficult for it as it is for me. ‘I just thought, if we revisited a few, you know, of your, I mean, our failures, you never know what might happen. Some redrafts, perhaps. New ideas, even.’
There is a long silence.
And if the worst comes to the worst, you’ve always got the other side of the sheet to write new stuff.
‘Yes, you remember? When you can’t help yourself and there it just is. Like love. That stuff.’
‘I do remember, yes.’
‘Well then,’ the book says. ‘That settles it.’
And before I can protest, the bag is zipped up and we have left the house.
In the car on the way to the airport I ask if the book remembered any reading material. We are at a particularly complicated junction, somewhere in the middle of Slough. But the book doesn’t miss a beat. ‘The usual. Some poets you have never heard of, Slovakian I think, a couple of Americans, and a book on the Desert Fathers. Plus that Thomas Merton you haven’t opened yet.’
The car accelerates with force through an amber-ish light.
‘Thank you. I mean, great.’
‘We aim to please,’ the book says, with the merest hint of a smile.