‘What’s up?’ says the book.
‘It’s nothing. Really. I’m fine,’ I say.
‘For a person with their head in their hands you don’t look fine,’ the book says.
‘I’m fine,’ I say. ‘I am not fine,’ I say.
‘That wasn’t hard was it?’
‘That took a lot of soul searching. Not to mention my Christmas Curly Wurlys.’
‘You were saving those for me!’
‘Was not. And anyway, you hate Curly Wurlys. You only like giant chocolate buttons.’
‘I do like those, yes. Do you have any?’
‘Are we talking or not?’
The book looks at me. ‘OK, then. Go on.’
‘It was this thing on Facebook this bloke said.’
‘Who? I can send the boys round if you’d like.’
I look at the book for a moment. ‘I think you are missing the point,’ I say at last. ‘It was a bloke, don’t know who, just some guy.’
‘It’s always a bloke, isn’t it? You know they need watching. And anyway, I thought you were off Facebook?’
‘I am. I mean, I am. But for a moment I went back on there, idiot, breaking my promise to myself and the world. I think I let my ego persuade me that I needed to see how many likes I got for something. I should never have bothered.’
‘I could have told you that.’
‘Are we talking or not?’ I say again.
The book looks at me for a moment.
‘He said, this bloke, he said we should pack it all in. That it’s become a bit tired. You know. Predictable.’
‘Some people!’ the book says. ‘The absolute cheek of it. I can still send the boys round. Just say the word.’
‘That is not the point. You aren’t listening. It’s not revenge I want. I want that feeling to go away.’
‘That spirally out of control feeling of needing someone else’s approval. Of seeking the approval of some bloke who I don’t even know and will never meet, and minding when I don’t get it. That feeling.’
The book looks at me for a long minute.
‘Joking aside, I think you are asking the wrong question. That feeling you describe, it’s never going to go away. Never. You are going to have to live with it. The only way of making it disappear, even for a moment, is to concentrate on doing your work, focusing on it, and letting that process become your reward. And if you do need approval, think of all the nice comments that people send you or say to you even. Like X the other day. There’s tons more of those than there are of this bloke. What was his name? I can still, you know, make a few calls.’
‘I honestly don’t remember. I’ve blanked it.’
‘Sounds to me like you’re half way there,’ the book says.