‘I don’t know if I can do this any more.’

‘Do what?’ the book says.

‘This.’

‘Sit around waiting for you to turn up and do some work.’

‘I could say much the same for you,’ the book says.

‘Except I actually turn up on time,’ I say.

‘Is this for real or have you been writing autobiography again?’

‘I’m serious,’ I say.

‘You can say that again,’ the book says. ‘I’ll at least grant you that.’

‘Did you know, a boy I went to school with is now a leading right wing journalist? Another became a hermit. Another died. Cancer. Became a headteacher. I have wasted my life.’

‘Is that what this is about?’ the book says. ‘Don’t compare your back page to someone else’s front page. Literally in the case of the journalist. You of all people should know that by now. Tell me, how many books of poems did they write? How many teachers did they influence? Did their blogs get turned into books? Have they made the mark you have? Have they?’

‘I have wasted my life,’ I say.

‘Sometimes there is no helping you,’ the book says, leaving.