New Year’s Day. Things are still slow. People walk past coughing. We have almost as many haunted daytime coughs in this town as we have inarticulate cries after dark. When we aren’t making animal noises we’re coughing ourselves to death. It’s eerie but not for the usual reasons. It’s eerie but not at all threatening. “I’ll have another drink now,” I heard someone say musingly this dinnertime, as he turned off suddenly into the open doorway of the workingmen’s club. “You be sure and have one for me, now,” said the woman with him, and shot forward up the High Street as if released from his gravity. (It was rocket science, the mutually accelerating dance of planetary bodies, or at any rate bodies. She was young enough to be his granddaughter, old enough to keep an eye out for him then move off smoothly, with a little added velocity, on adult business of her own.) When she had gone, he came back out to let his cough off the lead for a minute or two, a New Year’s allowance of the sort you might make your small rough dog. It was a cough that knew its way up and down the street, to the workingmen’s club and back, blindfold. “Orright?” he asked me from somewhere in the background of himself, giving me the kind but impartial Midlands smile. “Orright,” I was able to reply. It wasn’t a bad effort and I was pleased with it. I went home and noted: Only ever write when you have something worth writing. Write short stories because you want to. Write short novels because that’s what you want. Always defer or deny closure. Always break the structure. Always undermine or contradict the rationale. Always refuse a conceptually interpretable or comfortable ending. I thought for a bit and then added: You can offer resolution but only at another level. Then, finally: Keep saying no.