An old man on an old bike peddles past with two old sinks tied awkwardly to the back of his seat and a rack. His grey hair is long and flows, his back is bent, he is smiling into the wind. And the wind is blowing a giant Chinese dragon over the top of Stamford Hill, down to Walthamstow Marshes. I almost believe the huge weeping willow. Haggling over how many minutes to Charing Cross. Who travels furthest. Who compromises most. Agreement is reached with laughter, and my own huge relief. Friendships are almost as hard work as books. Never thought writing a book could be this hard. Is it this hard for everyone, or just me? It’s so very very hard. Michèle Roberts is music to the ears: ‘To be a writer you might need some talent and a passionate love of your subject, but without bloodymindedness you won’t get very far.’ I really hope she’s right.