Larry came to stay the other evening. I came in from work to find him sat on our sofa, wearing my dressing gown. Apparently he had cycled over from his lodgings and had been caught in a shower. Maude had insisted that he ‘get out of those wet clothes’. The sight of a man in my dressing gown on my sofa on my early return from work didn’t cause me any alarm whatsoever – I knew that Maude had better taste and that Larry would never expend enough energy to philander.
‘It’s not how it looks!’ said Larry in mock defence.
I smiled, went through to the kitchen and kissed Maude as she hoisted Larry’s clothes up on the airer. Larry’s clothes are all black. This means that, like Einstein, he saves the time and energy he might waste on choosing outfits. Einstein used the time to make an impression. Larry seems to be saving the time in a deposit account fashion. Larry was to stay for dinner, so Maude offered him an outfit from my wardrobe to make him feel more at ease (if that were possible). It was the first time I had seen him in primary colours – as he retook the sofa in a sky blue polo shirt and some brown cords. I noticed that he was agitated and looking around the room in a state of high anxiety. His fingers were visibly twitching and he began to stare in the direction of the television. I then realised that he was without the tools of his trade – the remote controls for the TV and the SKY box. His face brightened as I found them and placed them in his eager grasp. He looked straight ahead and his fingers darted over the surface of the controls in an expert, almost automatic, sweep. I was reminded of The Who’s ‘Pinball Wizard’ as the TV came alive and flashed a multi-screen display. Larry muttered to himself - his fingers a blur - as the images on the screen were renewed every couple of seconds.
It was at this point that Maude entered the room and turned the TV off at the wall.
‘Dinner is served.’
Larry was agog as he watched Maude’s figure recede into the hall towards the dining room. As the sound of the dinner gong rang out, Larry stood and walked unsteadily towards the doorway. I gently stopped him halfway and prised the remote controls from his hands.
Larry loves Maude’s cooking and made appreciative noises as he ate. His usual diet consists exclusively of Ryvita, peases pudding and mackerel - washed down with his flatmate’s coffee. Maude remembered to set Larry’s place in his usual spot – on the inside. Larry insists that he keeps his back to the wall and refuses to eat if seated ‘on the outside’. His conversation over dinner revolved around his happiness with his lifestyle.
‘I’m just happy with the space and time to just be’ he insisted. ‘I don’t need much money.’
Larry teaches the ukulele on a part-time basis and insists that he has a considerable roster of students and can recognise a potential ukulele player across a crowded room – she’s usually blonde and pocket-sized.
We then watched a film. It was quite an accomplished thriller and we jumped with fright in unison on the sofa. Maude then told Larry about the joys of our postal film rental deal – no visits to a shop, no overdue fees. Larry ventured that the scheme was flawed for two reasons a) it required payment b) he would have to make a journey involving 2 flights of stairs to pick up the film from the letterbox and get it back to the DVD machine at the foot of his bed.
As Maude made up the day-bed for Larry's stay, I caught her attention.
‘Remember what happened last time Dear…he stayed for 6 months.’
I thought that I had left Larry engrossed in a multiscreen TV nightcap, but he was actually at my shoulder.
‘It was only 6 weeks,’ he remarked sullenly.
‘Was that all?’ I added. ‘It was such an enjoyable spell, it seemed longer.’