The next night I tell you I’ve decided that I’ll only have a tattoo done if you choose what it’s going to be.
Right, you say, I know exactly what.
You go to your bookshelves (this is before we’re living together, before we do the most faithful act of all, mix our separate books into one library) and you take down a slim volume of Jane Austen, open it and flick through it till you find what you’re looking for.

From there, you say, to there.
I didn’t know there was an earlier Jane Austen than Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. This is from something I’ve never heard of called Jack and Alice. I read it:

{The perfect form, the beautifull face, & elegant manners of Lucy so won on the affections of Alice that when they parted, which was not till after Supper, she assured her that except her Father, Brother, Uncles, Aunts, Cousins & other relations, Lady Williams, Charles Adams & a few dozen more of particular freinds, she loved her better than almost any other person in the world.}

Okay, which bit do you want? I say.
All of it, you say, from The to world, and I’ll expect your tattooist to spell beautiful like Austen does, with two l’s, and friend like the young Austen did, with its i and its e the other way round, f r e i n and d. Or you’ll need to get yourself a new skin because nothing less will do for me if you’re so determined to have a tattoo. Okay?

All of it? I say
Lucky for you the ands are ampersands, you say.

Ali Smith, Artful.

Just so you can see why I’m loving the book.


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