performance

There’s a framed picture of Sonia on the wall. It’s an unusual black and white shot, taken when she must have been in her late twenties. I wonder if Sonia was in the theatre or vaudeville or something, because the picture is so bold and strange. She’s leaning forwards in an off-the-shoulder gown, her eyes crossed, laughing. Either that, or she was a debutante at a studio session where she goofed-off for a moment and it gave them the image they liked the best, the one that conveyed the essence of her. Either way it’s a good picture.
You can still see the young woman in the ninety year old busy eating porridge on the opposite sofa. She’s a formidable presence, and I don’t feel able to ask her if she was on the stage or not. After all, I’m here to see her husband, not her, and anyway, I’ve got so much to do this morning I don’t really have time.
‘Just a couple more things and I’ll leave you to it,’ I say to her husband Oscar.
‘Hah?’ he says, turning his face in my direction. ‘Wha’dya say?’
I lay my hand on his and speak a little more slowly.
‘Pah!’ he says. ‘Leave me to what, exactly?’
‘Oh now don’t start off on that,’ says Sonia, laying down her spoon and studying us both with equal frostiness. ‘Give the man what he wants and we can all get about our business.’
The TV is on. A Spanish tenor performing arias with the Los Angeles  philharmonic.
‘It’s lovely, being serenaded whilst I work,’ I say. Although the truth is it makes taking a blood pressure much more difficult.
‘Yes? Well, don’t get used to it,’ says Sonia, scraping the last of her porridge from the bowl.

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