She hears the front door slam. This means HE’S gone down the road to buy The Times from this man who’s slumped inside a tiny hole in the wall stationers. Michael seems to get him to smile and talk with some verve about cricket, whereas she can’t even get a ‘how’s your father?’ hello out of him. It’s not that she’s jealous or anything like that. She thinks may be it’s because she’s a woman. She climbs slowly up to the third floor and enters his study to snitch a couple of pens which he’ll never miss because he’s got too many of them anyway.
Up there, both rooms are CRAMMED FULL of all HIS ‘stuff’. E.g., a small window ledge has:-
a bag of marbles, a thing you press that goes moo, a pedometer, pin badges – 7 badges from Goodward stating date and member, 1 Chinese flag badge, paper clips, postcards, a faded photo of her taken 30 years ago which she doesn’t like but he does, his sister’s stained glass hanging ornament, 4 boxes of business cards, empty cartridge cases, a small silver hip flask, a rubber, a digital camera, assorted batteries, an Egyptian sand jar and a porcelain squirrel.
She once asked her handsome Czech window cleaners to clear it just so they could get to clean the windows. But they cowered down like hyenas shaking their heads as if to say, ‘respect the Mancave’. And after all these years, maybe she’s missed an understanding of why he’s different and what it means to be male and well, just him really.
The thing is, she does know; She just likes to make a bit of a thing of it.