[The scene: the foyer of a university theatre. Conference delegates are standing around chatting.]
Look, Michael Frayn is standing over by the coffee on his own! If I don’t go and speak to him, I’ll kick myself afterwards. I mean, I had to stop reading The Tin Men and Towards the End of the Morning in public because I kept embarrassing myself by laughing out loud… And then Copenhagen… Come on, I have to. Don’t know what I’ll say, but anything…
OK, I don’t think that was too great a faux pas to ask what he is working on now. I mean, he said “Nothing!”, but not angrily, and now he’s gone and asked what I am working on! Michael Frayn is interested in that! And I didn’t think he’d even know who I was at all! So yes Michael, I see it as a kind of cultural history and – uh OK, now I get it, this is his very gracious way of deflecting the question, because he doesn’t really want to say what he’s working on. Ah well, keep it going… You see, it’s a book all about the stories we tell when –
That bloke out of the window there looks quite like my neighbour Geoff.
Focus, you fool. You can’t start looking over the shoulder of Michael Frayn, as if you’re hoping to catch the eye of someone else at the meeting who might be more interesting to talk to. This is Michael Frayn! Very funny books! Copenhagen! So, this cultural history that goes back to Plato and –
No, he really looks a lot like my neighbour.
Don’t keep looking, you idiot. Look, you have come to Lincoln for the day. Lincoln is a little town, OK so a city really, with cathedral and all, and the cathedral is fabulous, and the dock front around the campus is nice, but it’s not exactly a place people come to, is it? You have to change at Peterborough, for God’s sake. So you glimpsed a bloke with receding hair and a beard, like 80 percent of all male university lecturers. It’s not actually going to be Geoff, is it? I know he turned out to be in Spain the other week at the same time as you, but is he really going to be strolling through the Lincoln campus just as you glance out of the window? Do you think he is stalking you or something?
So where were we? Oh, Michael is talking to someone else now. Well, I would only have blurted out some silly question about Heisenberg.
[Yes, it was my neighbour Geoff.]