character phones

Tony has a range of character phones. Tweety Pie, Hello Kitty, Bugs Bunny and so on. All of them bravely maintaining their expressions beneath the same grimy brown patina that covers everything in Tony’s room. It’s an astonishing thing, a dismal, bristling crust that wouldn’t look out of place on the wreck of a ship at the bottom of the Atlantic. And if this was a ship, I’d guess, through the visor of my mask, that I’d swum into the nursery, because encircling the whole room are three shelves, each of which is packed full of toys and childish souvenirs of every description: elephants, camels, teddy bears and finger drums, Chad Valley projectors and unidentifiable things in snow globes, figurines in decaying boxes from shows I’ve never heard of – the whole, mouldering cargo merging one thing into another, in one great soup of neglect.
‘Quite a collection you’ve got,’ I say as I take his blood pressure.
‘Inherited,’ he sniffs. ‘I had six relatives all die in the space of two years. I got rid of what I could. The rest just stayed.’
‘I’m sorry.’
‘It was a bad time that’s for sure,’ he says, rolling his sleeve down again. He coughs – such a sludgy sound it’s hard to resist the idea that his lungs are coated in the same noxious matter as the rest of the room. ‘I fell ill. And then my support worker died.’
‘How awful!’
‘He dropped dead in this room, right about where you’re standing now.’

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