Writers are magpies and petty thieves. We steal. We borrow with no intention of return. We pick over, separate flesh from bone, discard, dissect and reshape. No-one is safe from our alert antennae. The stranger behind us in the bus queue. That fellow patient in the dentist waiting room. The customer at the neighbouring table in the coffee shop. An overheard conversation, sometimes just a couple of phrases, can be removed from their owner, trawled in like a grateful fisherman, stored for further use and exploitation. Writers are merciless. Sometimes, the theft is not verbal at all. It?s a mannerism…

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