A letter arrives for Bob. He shows it to me:
(I can call you Bob, can't I?) Listen, our shelves groan under the weight of Ezra, Larkin, Hughes and Heaney (...so it's just as well I got a Kindle for Crimbo, I suppose). Anyroad, and that's just the surface; deep as it may seem. We feel that you belong in this company. (Although, obviously, considering your neuralgia, you might prefer a comfy chair or a pouffe etc to a rather cramped set of bookshelves - the choice, naturellement, is yours...if you're happy standing up, that's fine with us too. It was good enough for Tommy Stearns - when he wasn't sprawled out on the cocktail cabinet like a patient etherised on a table while Viv applied his mascara for him...)
Anyway, where was I? [Straight-faced:] It would be the fulfillment of my most pressing (and, believe me, I've been well and truly presssed, no word of a lie) and persistent publishing dream to see that 'ff' sewn into the spine of your life (although, given your advanced age, you may prefer an epidural injection....my wife swears by them, but then, I've never been pregnant with sextuplets by another man, so I wouldn't be able to weigh up the relative merits, unfortunately - again, I defer to your judgement in this, as ever...) Just any other publisher won't do. (Besides, Mills & Boon won't touch drag - take my word for it....Christ knows, I've tried myself, but they can't seem to see beyond the five o'clock shadow. They could have had Paul O'Grady too if they'd played their cards right. Serves 'em right the Philestines!) You deserve Faber and the love we can give you. History demands it; destiny commands it. (Besides, my agent has a ten pound each-way wager on you for the Orange prize. You can't say fairer than that, can you?)
Robert Swipe, the doors of our Georgian Bloomsbury-based publishing house are open to you wherever you may be: Penge, Cricklewood, Rothergavenny. (Although, realistically, it would help if you were somewhere within the London Orbital if you're planning to squeeze a crafty snifter in in the Coach & Horses before closing time...)
"We'll let you know..."
Yours besottedly & C,
Faber & Faber
So, there you go! Bob's thinking about it - although obviously they'll have to match the offer he's just had from Escort for a serialised memoir. (Well, they've offered to throw in a subscription...)
I'll keep you posted...