"I have just bought a tank-top."
Keeping up with developments in the swarthy rogue's life can be a dizzying experience. One week it's inter-racial anal tomfoolery; the next shenanigans in the knitwear department.
"From M&S. Grey. Lambswool. It shows my cuff-links off to full effect. Plus, when I am going door-to-door for Kremlin Enterprises, I can get a bit chilly, like. I got some vests too. They show nicely through my shirt. What with my Brylcreem, my vests and my tank top, I think you'd approve, flower."
Reader: I do approve. I do love all things retro. And cosy. It sounds to me like Rochester is adopting a most appropriate approach to ageing. Let me be brutally honest, I always had him pegged as a swaggering knob-jockey who would spend his mid 40s strutting round dimly-lit wine-bars beneath a musky mushroom cloud of overbearing aftershave (probably derived from the anal glands of a rutting ferret). I pictured him draping himself round giggling, lithesome twenty year-olds like a gruff Geordie, mono-browed anaconda, grumbling come-hither lines about UPVC millions and sodomy. Tank-tops signify a much more dignified descent into middle age. Who knows, maybe he'll even give up the roll-ups and cocaine and start smoking a pipe. Or cigars. Dare I even dream of an allotment? Tweed? Tortoiseshell specs? A BEARD??
"Anyway flower, I checked out that Green Irish Tweed stuff that you recommended. Decided it wasn't for me. I know you said it was what JFK wore but decided to go for something a bit more South Shields. A bit more Arthur Scargill. I got Old Spice instead. Saved meeself a couple of hundred quid there."
"I don't think JFK would have seduced Marilyn Monroe with Old Spice, Rochester. Never mind. You are doing well. Your BMW jars with the new image though. PLEASE ditch the fanny-wagon and get a nice 1970s mustard-yellow Volvo. Or a battered old moss-green SAAB."
"One step ahead of you there, flower. Sold the fanny-wagon already."
"Aye. Polish fella bought it. He took it over on the ferry last week. I hope the sniffer dogs at the border don't pay it too much attention mind."
"What have you got now then?"
(Bewildered) "A CORSA?"
Now, even for me, and my love of things quiet, modest and genteel, a CORSA is a shuffling, moccasined step too far towards effete and flaccid curate-dom . Only 56 year old men called Malcolm drive CORSAs. You know the sort: middle managers at the bank who still live with their imperious, gimlet-eyed mothers. Men who are far too familiar with the many varieties of Mr Kipling cakes and the merits of M&S vs Pretty Polly support tights. Not men who are ever likely to take you roughly against your clattering 1930s walnut drinks cabinet to a throbbing Grinderman soundtrack.
"Aye, a CORSA. What of it? Just renting it mind."
"DEAR GOD. Anyway Rochester, I have sent you another film. When you get in tonight, get your slippers on and watch it. The Odd Couple. I am TELLING you, watching Walter Matthau in this film, it will be like looking in the mirror. His crumpled, hangdog face; all jowly and world-weary like a basset-hound who's just been shoved off his favourite fireside armchair. You'll love it. He's got your eyebrows, your sardonic grouchiness, your shambolic lifestyle. Fuck, he's even got your vests and Brycreem. The resemblance is uncanny."
"Aye, I'll watch it flower. I'm not sure I see the Matthau thing mind."
"What address have I sent this to? This address of yours; it's a flat. I didn't think you lived in a flat. Is it Kremlin HQ?"
"So where is it then?"
"It's my flat, petal."
"Aye. MY flat. . . .I've moved out. I've left."
(Confused) "Oh. You never mentioned it. When did this happen?"
"A few months ago. Christmas maybe. A bit before. 6 months . . . .possibly."
Revelations, see? Tank-tops. Vests. Eau de Scargill aftershave. Curate's cars. And six months. Six long months. Six CUNTING months, and the rogue never even mentioned it once.
(By the way, for those who have asked, job is OK, but not great. But, I shall write about that later.)