Having stomped around for the last day or two feeling bookless – Lawrence and the Arabs, for all its merits, just isn’t cutting it – I parked illegally and spent forty minutes in Dog-Eared Books on Valencia. I stomped crossly through fiction, classics, drama and critical theory, rejecting everything with a bitter scowl.

Then I found natural history: bada bing, bada boom! I bought Malthus, Darwin, Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man. The woman at the counter asked: “Are you doing a research project?” “Nope,” I said, “I’m having a baby.” She looked blank. “I want her to be a good chimpanzee,” I explained.

Have I mentioned how excessively fond I am of my cat? Just now, in a transparent bid for attention, she launched herself from my desk, described a ballistic trajectory with its zenith about six feet in the air, dropped like a speadeagled brick onto the pink rug and bit it. Take that, puny floor-covering!

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