‘You look tired.’
‘I am tired,’ I say.
‘But term hasn’t even started yet. You’re not match fit. Just you wait!’
‘Excuse me, but why are you here?’ I say.
‘To cheer you up. You look tired, that’s why.’
‘It isn’t working.’
‘Want to talk about it?’
‘But you’re going to, right?’
‘I’ve decided to give up.’
‘What, again? You’re always saying that.’
‘This time I mean it.’
The book stares at me for what feels like an hour without blinking or saying a word.
‘I saw something on the internet. A poet. Actually, I’m not sure if he describes himself as a poet. My daughter showed me on her phone. Grime. A grime artist she said. I said Oh yes, and she showed me. And I haven’t recovered yet. It was beautiful. Completely blew my socks off. Reminded me of the way I felt when I first heard Public Enemy. And I thought, truly, I have nothing on this. Nothing. I am not even at the races. Not even in the same stadium. The same planet. The same language. What on earth have I been doing with my life? I have wasted it. He was 23 you know. Same age as my daughter. That’s why I am giving up. Because nothing I write will ever have that energy, that rage, that humour. I am sunk. It’s over.’
‘Yes, well, you say that -‘
‘But it’s true. It’s over.’
‘But you don’t not play football because you watched Messi playing, do you?’
‘I think football and I parted company a while ago,’ I say.
‘But you take my point. Just because there are Argentinian geniuses out there doesn’t mean you walk away with the ball. So to speak.’
‘Maybe you’re right,’ I say.
‘You know I am,’ the book says. It gets up from its chair and delivers a loud slap on my back. ‘Sorry, was that a bit hard? The slap, I mean.’
‘You know it was. I’m still giving up.’
‘Suit yourself,’ the book says.
‘I will, thank you.’