Go left































































Eventually we get into the room and Kate decides to have a shower while I unpack. It doesn’t take me long. I put everything in its right place, making full use of the ample storage space. Then I sit on the bed and read a leaflet about Things To See and Do in the local area. It’s dead quiet in the room. All I can hear is the trickle of water going down the drain in the bathroom.

I think about getting into bed to test the electric blanket but before I can loosen the sheets, somebody starts banging on the door. It’s the manager. He looks a bit uncomfortable, standing there in the doorway, so I give him one of my smiles to make him feel at ease. His hair looks really great in this light, all smooth and shiny, and I can’t help wondering how he gets it like that. I don’t get the chance to ask because straightaway he starts up:

Will you be having breakfast in the morning? It’s all included. Orange juice, a choice of cereals, bacon, sausage, fried tomato and an egg, toast with jam or marmalade, tea and coffee. The thing is, I need to be sure. I need to know that you’re going to eat it otherwise I won’t make it. I don’t make breakfast for fun you know. I’d much rather not do it but people seem to expect it these days. It’s more trouble than its worth. I have a lot of problems with people not eating breakfast or rather wanting breakfast but then not eating breakfast. I’ve got better things to do you know. Especially since Mother left us. You don’t seem to realise how hard it is to keep a place like this going. It’s not as if I’m just sitting around waiting for people to turn up. I’ve got all the cleaning to do, the gardens to look after, repairs to be done and, once a week, I change all the sheets on the beds whether they’ve been slept in or not. Then there’s all the accounts – that’s a full-time job in itself. Of course, it was easier when Mother was here, but I’m on my own now. It’s alright for you. You can come and go as you like. You don’t care about me, do you? Why should you? Do you hear what I’m saying? Do you understand?

Yes, I say. I understand.

At that moment Kate comes in wearing nothing but a fluffy white towel. The manager and I both look at her. Kate looks at us.

What’s going on? she asks.

I tell her about breakfast, leaving out all the stuff about Mother. Kate shrugs.

Yeah, she says. Why not?

The manager keeps on looking at Kate without saying anything. I can hear him breathing quite hard as if each breath might be his last but otherwise it’s silence all around us, just the three of us standing there looking at each other. Something else needs to be said but I can’t quite think what it might be. I wonder if this might be a good time to ask him about the teapot.

Anyway, before I can say anything, the mini-fridge suddenly coughs into life and begins to hum very loudly. I hope it’s not going to hum like that all night, but when I turn to ask the manager about it but he’s already disappeared and I’m standing there with the door wide open.

Andy, says Kate. Shut it.