Running a bath

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‘What are you doing?’ the book says.

‘What’s it look like?’ I say.

‘Running a bath,’ the book says.

‘Genius,’ I say.

‘It’s not exactly rocket science,’ the book says.

‘Genius again!’

‘If you don’t mind me asking,’ the book says, ‘why a bath? What’s so special about running a bath?’

‘Nothing special at all,’ I say. ‘That’s the whole point. I worked out that if I am to get anything done, incrementally, over time, I needed to commit to doing those things around habits that are already hardwired into my life. Like getting out of bed.’

‘Or running a bath,’ the book says.

‘Or running a bath, exactly. I don’t even think about it. I turn on the taps before I am even awake. But now when I shuffle to the bathroom my pad comes with me. What does that give me, fifteen minutes of rubbish morning scribble before the bath stops running. Fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time and a few pages of stuff that otherwise wouldn’t exist.’

‘But they’ll be rubbish!’ the book says.

‘And your point is?’

‘But they’ll be rubbish,’ the book says again. ‘Plus you won’t have had coffee.’

‘Rubbish is the whole point,’ I say. ‘No one is seeing them, not even you. Especially you, now I think of it. Fifteen minutes of scribble, before my censor has kicked in telling me to stop, give up and go back to bed where it is warm. You can get a lot done in fifteen minutes. I got the idea off Ann Sansom. She told me Norman MacCaig had a rule about poems taking no longer than a single cigarette. Two, if he was feeling generous. And now look at his Collected. A monument. Not a duff poem in it. And if I wait for coffee I might as well throw in the towel right now.’

There is a long silence.

‘I hope you know what you’re doing,’ the book says eventually.

‘I never know what I’m doing,’ I say. ‘That’s the whole point. If you think this is about safety you haven’t been listening.’

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