[An empty suburban street, distant cars, etc]
1 Just push will you. There.
2 I don't like it.
1 I don't care. I'm not asking you to like it.
2 Yeah, but I have to pick you up afterwards, don't I?
1 For which I'm very grateful.
2 But you just go out and do it again, don't you?
1 Don't. Just don't, all right. It's hard enough as it is.
2 Sorry. Here we are. Number six, is it? Well, at least they've got a ramp. I don't think I could push you up any more bloody steps. What is it this time? Aromatherapy? Needles? Reflexology? Pushing lit candles in your ear ...
1 It's not you who has six months to live.
2 Anyway. In we go.
So we went up the slope and in. The house was in one of those grubby Victorian terraces that somehow missed out on the gentrification of South London, sitting as it did in a hinterland between Tulse Hill and Croydon. Grubby net curtains prevented anyone from looking in, or out. The front garden was now paved over and in its weed-infested corners small piles of rubbish had blown in from the street. I pushed Cliff up the ramp. A teenage girl held the door for us and we went through the tiled hallway and into dingy room at the back.
The wallpaper had been fashionable in the Seventies, big colourful swathes of browns and greens but now it looked like the remains of some half-eaten meal. There was a woman there, her pale green twin set also from another era. A tarp had been laid over the carpet, its shabby surface painted with dusty runes and symbols.
As the chair moved past her, she prised me away from it and steered me out into the hallway where she indicated that I should sit on the step. Her steely eyes and brillo-pad hair would brook no argument. I sat, and waited.
[Sounds of seaside, gulls, waves, etc]
1 Come on, come on in. It's lovely.
2 You go in. I just want to lie here in the sun with a book.
1 No. You've got to come in.
2 Go to? I don't think so. I've got a Ruth Rendell that won't read itself.
1 No. You must. I've got something to tell you. And besides, you won't be very comfortable on the shingle. Come on.
2 Oh all right. I'll just get my shorts off. Wait for me.
[More splashing and horse play]
2 So what was so bloody important? Are, are you shivering.
1 It doesn't matter. Just hold me.
2 So ...
1 This is it.
1 This is the end.
2 The end of what? But it can't be!
1 No. It is. You ...
2 But you're better now. The doctors said, no sign ...
1 It's not that simple. There was a price. Ah, let me finish. And hold my hands. You're shivering now. You know I had four months to live. Well, the ... the intervention, the procedure as they like to call it, changed that. It took, it took all my remaining ...
2 But ...
1 No. It was my choice. My choice to make. Hasn't it been great? Being us, together again, without that hateful chair, not having to drag me around.
2 But you should have told me. How could you not tell me?
1 Oh don't spoil it. Please. I, I don't have very long left.
2 Don't touch me! You lied to me!
1 But I did it for our sake! Can't ...
And then we noticed along the tideline a small group of children had assembled and were quietly watching us, their ice creams dripping into the surf. I waded out and pushed through them, grabbed my things and stormed back to the hotel. Jenny didn't even make it onto the promenade.