Hanging out the washing

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‘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.’

 

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