‘What are you doing?’
‘What’s it look like?’ I say.
‘Hanging out the washing,’ the book says.
‘That’s right. I’m hanging out the washing.’
‘But we’ve got work to do!’ says the book.
‘I think you’ll find this is work,’ I say.
‘Your work, not my work,’ the book says with a sniff.
‘There is no dividing line.’ I clip the last peg to the line and turn to face the book. ‘This is where I do my best work,’ I say. ‘You know that. And anyway, it isn’t a competition.’
The book gives a little sniff again. ‘But I’ve missed you,’ the book says.
‘I never went away. You were here with me all the time. Hanging out the washing. And later, when I change the light bulbs and wash the van down, you’ll be there too. It’s quite simple.’
‘But I want you to myself,’ says the book.
‘You do have me to yourself,’ I say. ‘I’m off now to waterproof my anorak, you coming?’
The book looks at me, as though waiting for me to feed it a different kind of punchline, as though I might have been joking all along.
‘I’ll join you later,’ it says. ‘When you’re serious.’
‘But I am serious,’ I say. ‘Always. But serious isn’t always my desk.’