The wedding speech

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‘Where have you been?’ says the book.

‘And good morning to you, too!’ I say.

‘Where have you been?’ the book says again.

‘A wedding,’ I say. ‘The band were excellent. You would have loved it.’

The book says nothing. Clearly I have done something to upset it, something the book is not prepared to divulge.

‘What is it?’ I say.

‘Nothing.’

‘Come on,’ I say. ‘You can tell me.’

Again, the book is silent, its back turned to me, the better to stare out of the window.

‘If you want to know, I had a nice chat with the father of the bride. He did a very lovely speech, terrifically short. If he had spoken for half a minute longer I would have won the sweepstake!’ Still the book does not move. ‘You know, where everyone on your table puts in a quid and guesses how long the speeches will take? Anyway, I said to him how lovely his speech was, how moving I had found it, and he told me how nervous he had been. How he had done weeks of prep and googling funny jokes, learning his lines, and driving himself mad. In the end, he said, he tore up the speech and decided just to speak from the heart, no preparation, and go for it, even though he knew he wasn’t ready. I thought that was rather wonderful. A model, if you like. It impressed me.’

While I have been talking the book has wrapped a rug around itself and curled up in a ball on the floor. There is the faint sound of snoring coming from under its blanket.

‘He wasn’t ready,’ I say, to the ball on the floor. ‘But he still went through with it. Isn’t that great?’

There is no reply.

I tiptoe out of the room, turning off the light as I go.

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