I'm not stupid, not stupid at all. I'm just not qualified at anything. I've no exams. Wasn't much cop at school. But I'm bright enough. I'm wasted here. I mean, I can't be a bloody waitress all my life. I can't get a degree in waitressing. I can't go on University Challenge reading menus. What Jamie was doing for me, as well as being my lover, was educating me. I'd never wanted to read before, but he schooled me in it, sitting here talking about the great writers. But it was a curious kind of schooling, all done through a drunken haze, a kind of second-hand education in which I picked up on the enthusiasm but only half picked up on all the facts. Half remembered names and titles. There's nothing like walking into a bookshop in Belfast and asking for Dr. Chicago by Doris Pasterneck."
"It's easily done . . ."
"Or The Day of the Jack Russell."
"Well, I . . ."
"A Pitcher of Dorian Grey. The list goes on. What I want to do well is write. Write my book."
"A thousand times."
"It's hard, isn't it?"
"You've tried yourself?"
"Many's a time. I wrote a novel once, sent it off to a publisher. They kept it. Sent me back a copy of the Northern Ireland telephone directory, said it had marginally fewer characters and a better plot. I haven't written much since then."