Concentration is crucial to every successful venture, from skating to writing to cooking, even to walking the dog. I mean, when you walk a dog you should notice things the dog may be trying to tell you. At the moment, our old dog’s saying ‘it’s a bit muddy’ and the younger dog’s saying ‘why does the old dog get breakfast when I don’t?’. I acknowledge the observation and the question, even though there’s nothing to be done about the mud and, gee Blackberry, Crumble is OLD! That’s why she gets breakfast.

Once back in my study, I fossick about, then try to concentrate on a new work. I can’t call it a work in progress since some days there’s no progress at all. I find myself still submerged in Sedition, not just thinking about the book’s upcoming events, but in the story itself. This may be because every evening I practise my Goldberg, so every evening I’m back with my girls. Sometimes I play as doltishly as Everina, sometimes badly as Marianne, sometimes wistfully as Georgiana and sometimes smartish, like Harriet. Sadly, I never match Annie or Alathea, though I’ll never give up hoping that one evening, just once, my Goldberg aria will catch something of their intelligence.

The dogs are Bach fans. I suggest no musical sensibility, only that once I sit down at the piano they know they can curl up in their warm lidded beds for an hour or two, ears uncocked, eyes closed. I’ll be concentrating on fingering. They’ll be concentrating on sleep. We’re not lacking concentration in this house, it’s just not always properly directed.