Yesterday morning I went to the bathroom in my hotel room in Madrid - and coughed like Mimi, who I had seen die of consumption in La Boheme at the Teatro Real the night before.
I had been suffering badly from hay fever for the previous few days, accentuated rather than alleviated by a night asleep, which had merely allowed all the gunk I accumulated in the night to gather at the back of my throat. Causing me to cough - to cough, and once I had leaned over the basin to spit, to also splutter, gag and retch, to spit into the basin not only the contents of my throat but, to judge from the tearing feeling and the spots of blood, much of the throat itself.
Mercifully, the throat remained intact. The blood was actually from closer to the mouth, as I discovered shortly, when I began to brush my teeth and found myself obliged instead to swill several glasses of water before the bleeding subsided. I have recently had a tooth extracted - the third of its family to disappear - and the resulting cavity is still both deep and sensitive. One fears to touch it with a brush because of the likely short-term consequences - some pain, some bleeding, some soreness, some discomfort. Yet one fears also to leave it untouched for fear of the likely consequences in the longer term: more decay and more extractions and an old man's empty mouth.
I shaved, using a cheap blade I had bought at the Farmacia opposite the night before. Once more my worn-out memory failed in a simple task: to remember that a razor might be one of the very small number of items one needs for an overnight stay. I completed the shave adequately enough, and having finished, looked at myself in the mirror and saw more grey hairs than I thought myself accustomed to seeing. I finished going to the toilet (at my third attempt) and completed my routine with a shower, which I interrupted halfway through by dropping the sprinkler too close to my foot. It missed that foot by inches, but the foot itself was not to entirely escape misfortune. By the end of the day it, too, was in the treatment room, suffering from a blister on the sole.
When you're in your forties you don't go for a shower in the morning. You go in for running repairs and maintenance.