Today I sent my agent a 120,000 word manuscript called Double Lives – except it wasn’t really a ms, it was an email attachment which she will, she said, read on her Kindle. This represents the best part of a year’s work and I hope (against hope?) that it will end up between covers – not as mere pixels on a screen. Well, who knows. I wanted to put an epigraph upon it but nothing came to mind. Since it’s a book about two painters I had a quick look last night in van Gogh’s letters and re-discovered this: In a painter’s life death is not perhaps the hardest thing there is. Alas, though I like it, it does not really suit the subject matter of the book. Then I started glancing through The Book of Disquiet because there’s always something in there. It was hot outside and the rain was pouring down; I thought I could be in Lisbon but no; and Pessoa’s existential dilemmas, his paradoxical wisdom, seemed to suit my life better than anything I’d written. So I put him away too. Tried the Bible, since both my painters were some kind of Christian. But the Bible is . . . so biblical. I gave up and sent the ms naked. About half an hour later, browsing the ‘net, I found this: Every day things happen in the world that cannot be explained by any law of things we know. Every day they’re mentioned and forgotten, and the same mystery that brought them takes them away, transforming their secret into oblivion. Such is the law by which things that can’t be explained must be forgotten. The visible world goes on as usual in the broad daylight. Otherness watches us from the shadows. It’s from a Pessoa text called (I think) A Factless Autobiography. One I haven’t read. Anyway, went out to Newtown for lunch, wandered up King Street, had a beer in the Bank Hotel; and then, out of the blue, I thought – there’s the epigraph, I’ve found it: Otherness watches us from the shadows.