‘Do you mind if I ask you a question?’ the book says.

‘Why are you wearing my slippers?’ I say.

‘These are yours?’

‘Who else’s are they going to be?’

‘I just thought maybe you’d -‘

‘I’d what?’

‘I didn’t realise you were so possessive.’

‘Blame my boarding school,’ I say. ‘Stuff always went missing.’

‘Was it that bad?’

‘Not always. For all the early random violence, it was pretty good in the end. You wouldn’t be here for one thing.’

‘Profound,’ the book says.

‘I’m serious. The influence goes on.’

‘Who else?’


‘Influenced you. Influences, I mean.’

‘Simon and Garfunkel, Eric Morecambe, Peter Osgood, Captain Haddock, Julia Casterton, Michael Laskey, my kids, Jennings Goes to School, Beckett, Mrs Crump, Brian Eno, Peta Hooper, The Return of The Durutti Column, Truly, Madly, Deeply, Ted Hughes, Peter Sansom, This Charming Man, Nina Simone, Duncan Kramer, Martin Stannard, Gianfranco Zola, John Vickery, Dick Emery, Raymond Carver, Naomi Jaffa, Anon, Motown, Geoffrey Summerfield, Thom Gunn, Tim Borton, Hymns Ancient and Modern, Roy of the Rovers, Natalie Goldberg, Ann Sansom, Marian Whitehead, Alan Booth, Zoo Story, Pinter, The Martyrdom of Peter Ohey, The Gospel According to St Luke, Luke, Spitting Image, Siân Hughes, The Two Ronnies, The Message, Jean Sprackland, Jim, Ann Gray, Test Match Special, Michael Rosen, Gregory’s Girl, Peter Carpenter, The Beatles, Cindy Sherman, Didier Drogba, my parents, Wile E. Coyote, Larkin, Revolver, Pat Nevin, The Cocteau Twins, Basil Brush, Fawlty Towers, The Young Ones, my siblings, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Jörn Cann, Jesus Met the Woman at the Well, If…, The Titfield Thunderbolt, Swallows and Amazons, Christopher Southgate, Malcolm Doney, Rupert Loydell, A Walk Across the Rooftops, Children on the Hill, Armoury Show, Nigel, Mark Robinson, Roy Blackman, The Little Prince, Tatty. I could go on.’

‘Please don’t,’ says the book.

‘All right then,’ I say. ‘I won’t.’

‘Sometimes it’s like I don’t know you at all,’ says the book.