‘Happy new year,’ says the book.

’And to you, too,’ I say.

’You all right?’ says the book.

’Fine,’ I say. ‘I’m fine.’

’Fine as in just about tolerating everything, fine as in ‘Mustn’t grumble’, or fine as in genuinely really fine?’

’I am fine,’ I say.

’Made any new year’s resolutions?’ the book says.

’As I do every year,’ I say.

’Go on then,’ the book says, ‘spill the beans.’

’Not saying,’ I say. ‘You would laugh.’

’Promise you I won’t,’ the book says.

‘Promise?’

’Promise.’

’Come here then.’

The book shuffles over to where I am sitting. I lean my head towards its ear and whisper. The book attempts to stifle a giggle.

’I knew it!’ I say.

’Oh come on,’ the book says. ‘Lighten up a bit, won’t you? They’re not that bad, actually. I like the one about reading choices. Very creative. I didn’t know you had it in you.’

’And the others?’

’So now you need my affirmation? I have to say I expected more of you. Just do them, you know. It doesn’t matter what I think. Or what anybody thinks. No one is watching. (Unless everyone is.) The point is, would you do them if I wasn’t here? If no one was?’

I give the book a nod.

’Well there you are then. You don’t need my permission. Or anyone’s. Just do them anyway. What’s the worst that could happen? What was it Thurber said? “You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward.” Don’t wait. Don’t stop being open to the promptings of your heart. Be vulnerable. The time generally is right now. Go for it. “Do your own work.” Happy new year!’