“Let’s say a trapeze artist in a circus gets one of his moves wrong on the first night of the show. Luckily, his partner has good reflexes and catches him. The number goes down well, the audience don’t notice a thing and happily applaud. Then, when the show is over, the two of them clear things up in the caravan, and that’s the end of it.”
The two men began circumnavigating the aviary.
“Now let’s say the trapeze artist makes the same mistake on the second night. This time his partner misses him… The audience hold their breath, then applaud in relief. There was a net underneath. When the show’s over the owner of the circus goes to the trapeze artist’s caravan. He comes out after a while…”
The Publisher stopped—they had now walked halfway round the aviary—then resumed walking, again slowly dragging The Writer with him.
“Now, let’s say the trapeze artist gets the same move wrong for a third night running. There’s complete silence under the big top. Everyone’s holding their breath, thinking—”
“As long as there’s a net,” said The Writer, interpreting the audience’s thoughts.
“There had been. The circus owner had had it taken away.”
“And you know why he had it taken away?”
“Because he loved the circus more than he loved the trapeze artist.”