After Columbo, I rang Mother:
Kay: Hullo. Kay here.
Mother: Hello, Kay.
Kay: How are you?
Mother: Good. And you?
Kay: Not too bad. How’s Father?
Mother: He’s in the garden. The shed collapsed last Tuesday. It killed Percy.
Kay: Fuck. Who’s Percy?
Mother: Don’t swear. Percy is next door’s cat. We were obliged to pay for his funeral.
Kay: Cats don’t have funerals.
Mother: Mothers don’t lie.
Kay: I was ringing to see if I could borrow some money. Only for a couple of weeks, I’d pay it back.
Kay: Please, Mother.
Mother: The funeral was very expensive, Kay, and your father had to buy a new shed. It was only one month ago that we sent you £500.
Kay: Two months ago.
Mother: And what about the play? Malcolm is a large role, you told me. You said you’d be a star, Kay. I imagine you are paid well to appear in Shakespeare.
Kay: Goodbye, Mother.
Reader, I was banking on Mother’s money. She never refused. I knew she had savings. I knew she had cash. Fucking cat funerals couldn’t be expensive. And I didn’t believe Percy was having one, anyway. I telephoned again.
Kay: Mother, I’m desperate. I have rent to pay.
Mother: I’ve always said you pay too much for that tiny flat. You should live in a shared house like your nephew does. He went to
. Cambridge University
I ended the telephone call by throwing the mobile across the room. It struck the wall, leaving a black fudge, and fell to the floor in three pieces. I mended it with gaffer tape. It looked ridiculous.
We move to the following morning:
Dressed in a retro NY Cosmos soccer shirt and Diesel denim, I left my flat and walked down the stairs that lead to the communal exit past which Mr Dowson, the landlord, lurked.
He looked Turkish. Sweaty hair. He spoke with a Turkish accent. But I never saw him without an
football shirt. At the beginning of our relationship, when I paid rent on time, he would regale me with tales of his childhood in England Devon – running through fields of corn and drinking cider and watching the local soccer side. All damn lies, I’d bet. I would gamble both feet that he was from . Ankara
“Your rent is a late,” he said, every word mispronounced.
“But that can’t be, Mr Dowson,” I said.
“Dave,” he corrected with sinister civility.
His body stood tall and wide - the sun’s rays were temporary blocked. I could see nothing but the dull white of the over-washed
football shirt. And I could smell nothing but Old Spice. My nose tingled. England
I feigned surprise and ‘swore down’ that he’d have the money in his account by the end of the day. He nudged slightly to the right, a subtle signal that I could pass.
My landlord shouted something after me, but it was lost in the ambient noise of a
SE London high street of buses and teenagers and police sirens. It sounded like ‘You’re a gay’. I would be surprised if that’s what Dowson actually shouted. I’m not gay. And it would also be a strange observation to make at that point. I’d done nothing homosexual when passing, I was sure.
Before leaving the flat, I had taken all banknotes from Doctor Faustus. I counted them as I walked to Sainsbury’s (shopping for bread).
Three times I checked, and three times the figure remained the same:
Before meeting Rosalind, I possessed £245. I had travelled to
North London and bought lemonade. In the following few days I had only left the flat to buy economy brand foodstuff from Sainsbury’s and a few bottles of wine. I had also bought The Stage newspaper (£1.40).
In doing all of this, I had spent over a hundred quid.
Jesus F Christ.
In despair, I purchased a quality bottle of
. Alcohol would free me from despondency and inhibition. And inhibition is the enemy of remuneration. Bordeaux
I forgot to buy bread.
Twenty minutes after drinking the wine, I rang Mother once more. And, once more, she refused me money.