‘I don’t believe in washing-up liquid. It’s a western bourgeois chemical fallacy. It’s a myth, darling, to make you buy more crap.’
‘What do you use to clean up with, then?’
‘Water, like the rest of the planet. And they’re okay. Don’t you think?’
‘Sort of. Some of them.’
‘I don’t need much for breakfast. Can you cut the skin off the apple? That’s the fruit’s lifejacket. That’s the thing that soaks up the toxins. Quarter it up and put it with the banana. Thanks, darling. There’s some natural yogurt in the fridge. Two spoons of that would be wonderful. And two glasses of water. Down there on the floor where I can reach it.’
He moans softly whilst I work. It’s hard to resist the idea he’s doing it for my benefit, to illustrate how ill he is, but he really doesn’t need to. Anyone could see he was mortally ill, his flesh shrink-wrapped to the frame in that brutally anatomical way some cancers have.
‘I’ve got someone coming round later,’ he says. ‘An old lady friend of mine. From Thailand.’
‘She rang me up. She said I can’t believe you’re still alive, you old bastard. She’s fantastic, darling. Very educated.’
‘As long as it takes.’
He winks, in such a stagey way I wouldn’t be surprised to see a caption.
‘Is she going to be helping? You know – with meals and what have you?’
‘What have you?’ he says, adjusting his position in the chair. ‘Well – darling. If by what have you you’re talking about a world-class blowjob, then – yes, what have you…’
And he winks again, and takes the bowl of quartered apple, banana and yogurt in both hands, with his eyes closed, and a ceremonial nod.