23 SEPTEMBER 1995, Page 56

Low life

Missionary services

Jeffrey Bernard

The sum total of trivialities that go to make up my life as it is at the moment don't fill me with self-pity; I have learnt to revel in them, just as the years in pubs have taught me how to savour bores.

You need to try to be rather detached and dispassionate, but it is an odd paradox that even the ordinariness of day-to-day existence should have its little peaks of excitement. Even my daily morning headaches have become so localised that I am beginning to think that I may have a brain tumour which is food for thought, as is the making of my daily shopping list which I hand to Vera — who returns with the food and reports to me on the latest fluctuations of the price of peppers or tomatoes downstairs in the market. And there are more goodies to look forward to, particularly since the council is having this block re-wired. Starting tomorrow, two electricians will be working in this flat for three days using electric drills almost non- stop. They will stop of course, for tea and the awful digestive biscuits with milk chocolate on one side that Trudie, my dis- trict nurse, so likes.

I mention milk chocolate because she leapt at my piss-taking bait about it last week. I offered her a plain chocolate bis- cuit and she asked me if I had one with milk chocolate. I told her no, and that milk chocolate was so working class. She screamed, 'But I am bleedin' working class!' I have now threatened her with fizzy lemonade and custard creams the next time she comes to dress my foot just to keep her in her place. She feigns outrage but loves it.

With Vera we decided to start doing the pools last week and in her bustling, effi- cient nurse's way she insisted on writing out a card that all three of us have had to sign saying that we have all paid £7 for 21 weeks, a total of £21, and that any winnings will be equally divided. As far as Vera and I were concerned that went without saying, but Trudie insisted on this document because, as she said, it is highly likely that I would die within 21 weeks. Such a jolly nurse, but if we do win I shall employ them both privately, and I have sent the money to Littlewoods to avoid any nasty litigation. The agent who spent the £5 stake money of a three-man syndicate who then thought they had won over £2 million was on trial the last I heard, and it is to be hoped that he gets the life sentence I would get for killing him were I one of those three men. Being slightly superstitious, as most gam- blers are, I advised Trudie and Vera not to put an X in the box marked for no publici- ty. I'm sure that that's bad luck and for £1 million we wouldn't care if the tabloids had a field day. 'Nurse, Home Help and Dis- abled Man Win a Fortune.' As Trudie said, she and Vera could put their feet up and I could put my foot up.

As you may have guessed, Trudie does not believe in pulling punches and, like many hospital consultants nowadays, she thinks that dying people should be left in no doubt as to their prognosis and she can do that with a glance. We die in stirring times.

But I am wondering who I can inflict myself on when the electricians turn up with their drills? The flights of stairs in the Groucho Club make staying there an impossibility and, anyway, the rather inter- esting chambermaid who was a religious freak and nymphomaniac, who used to

The Sheriff wants us to rob from the poor to give tax cuts to the rich.' bring me breakfast in bed, left that job four years ago to continue her good works else- where. A true missionary.