‘I observe attitudes, habits, tics. I like to take time to see which impression someone wishes to make. I do not have an opinion or judgement about it; I am mostly interested in where a person’s behaviour comes from.’ Jaap Robben took a sip of his coffee and nodded thoughtfully before a wide grin returned to his face. A moment later, he told us what it was like to spend seventy hours a week on a fictional island, with fictional characters, in a fictional, oppressive environment. ‘I knew where the scissors and Band-Aids, the knives and forks would be if you opened a drawer. When the book was finished, I had to visit the osteopath to straighten out my back; I had become a gnarled willow.’

It was our turn to just listen and observe, with in the background only the sound of birds and leaves in the wind.