‘What are you doing?’ says the book.


‘Doesn’t look like it.’

‘Listening to the cricket,’ if you must know. ‘I am treating myself.’

‘Not like you,’ the book says. ‘Are we celebrating something?’

‘I am celebrating by doing nothing,’ I say.

‘What?’ the book says. ‘Anything I need to know about? Anything that might,’ it pauses to take a slurp of my tea, ‘interest me?’

‘Proofs,’ I say.

‘Proof or proofs?’ the book says.

‘Proofs. Plural.’

‘What proofs, when?’

‘Of my books,’ I say, looking straight at it.

‘You never said anything.’ The book gives a little sniff.

‘I didn’t think you’d be interested. Plus, you were away.’

‘Are they good?’

‘The proofs or the books?’

‘I don’t care about the proofs! The books. Are they up to it?’

‘They are amazing,’ I say. ‘You should take a look. Best things I’ve done.’

‘Oh,’ says the book. ‘I see.’

‘What would you rather I said? That they’re all right but basically not worth bothering with?’

‘A bit of humility would suit you sometimes,’ the book says.

‘I have spent my whole life being humble, screwing my big toe into the ground going red and aw shucks when passed a compliment every ten years. No longer. I am happy with my books. I am thrilled with them. There isn’t anything I want to change or feel I have left out. I have left it all out there, on the pitch. I am also very keen to move on to the next thing, but that is another story.’

There is a pause. The book takes another gulp of my tea.

‘I’m pleased for you,’ the book says.

‘You don’t sound it.’

‘Bet you find a typo.’

‘Bet you want me to find a typo,’ I say.

‘You’ve got me there,’ the book says. ‘Whose winning?’

‘I am,’ I say. ‘I am winning.’