John, books and dope.
John lived next door to us. He was quiet and retiring but not unfriendly. He was just exceedingly shy. You hardly saw him because he rarely opened his door. Indeed the only time I ever saw him out of his flat was when I invited him round for a coffee. I wondered how he managed to get his groceries. I certainly did not encounter him outside of the house.
He came in, took his mug of coffee, and started looking at our books. The walls were lined with them. It seemed to spook him out completely.
‘How did you find out about all these?’ he asked, astounded that anyone should have the slightest knowledge of literature.
He never came for coffee again.
John was in his thirties, a well cushioned fellow with long straggly fair hair and rheumy eyes. He’d achieved a First from Cambridge in English Literature.
John had a room with a very large square dark oak table that was pushed against the wall in front of the window. The only other furniture were two armchairs and large shelving units crammed with books. There were piles of books everywhere.
The large table was unusable. It was covered with a huge mound of roaches from joints that were piled up into a great peak resembling Mount Kilimanjaro. They reached to the edges and threatened to spill on to the floor.
John spent his days sitting in his armchair smoking dope and reading.
That was the sum total of his life.