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  • Writer's pictureDavid Mathews

Arthur has a cough

No temperature, you will be glad to hear, and he is at chez Whatnot anyway, having laid in a store of decent claret, cheese and green-leafed vegetables. He reckons that covers all angles, bar bread. ‘Are you going to make that sourdough you keep promising yourself, old boy? I’m three days into mine. I’m calling her Sandra. I give her a stir a couple of times a day, and tell her how I’m feeling, and – to her credit – I get no nonsense back.’ I tried to be subtle in my interrogation, but Arthur insisted that sourdough is not an inanimate object, and would hardly be much use if it was. Morever, in his opinion as a psychiatrist, it is far better to talk to something, even a sideboard, than talk to yourself and imagine that you are hearing good sense. A recent paper indicates, he went on, that it is better to speak to objects without legs, for legs encourage us to anthropomorphise the object. So, a pot rather than a console table, a clock rather than a dining chair. Didn’t a clock have hands, I ventured? Weren't hands as bad as feet? Arthur then gently reminded me of today’s date. Getting back to the subject, I admitted that I had resorted to flatbread rather than sourdough for the time being. It had gone decently with soup, and particularly well with hummus. Cheese, admittedly, would benefit from sourdough. And by next week I would have sourdough. 'I can’t think who you sound like,’ Arthur said, ‘telling me what’s needed, and how you’ll have it next week. Next thing you’ll be promising to ramp up the sourdough.’

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