The incontinence pad has twisted between my thighs, catching the skin of my testicles. My mother had a pad too, I remember now. Although in those days, her last days, those old times, then, they were substantially thicker. And I wonder now, each day, each hour, feeling the pad right there, whether the thickness would have made them more uncomfortable. A wodge of white absorbent towelling wedged up against her sagging vulva, stuffed between her slackening buttocks like an old cork rammed in to a bottle of rancid port. That must have hurt her, my poor mother. It’s the lack of muscle that makes it hard, the towelling pushing up to the bone, and they don’t mind a few bruises the nurses nowadays. But at least I am dying now, when they have developed the technology to produce incontinence pads as slim and absorbent as a slice of Mother’s Pride. The consolations of modern incontinence. Could they though, I wonder, put a slice of Mother’s Pride between my thighs to absorb the shit I produce? The constellations of modern bread. Not that there can be much shit, or much hard shit. I don’t even eat. How can you claim to be eating if you are being injected with liquidised food? I do not even have to swallow or chew or lick. I cannot even see it. I cannot turn my neck to look up at the plastic container hanging above me, that feeds me, that keeps me alive. What I see are the faces of the visitors who come in and who stare at it with some dose of disgust. It is injected into me, their dose of disgust, into my neck now because I pulled it from my arm several times because it was itching and because I don’t want to live any longer. If this is living. Did you hear that mother? I don’t want to live any longer. I’ve never understood what all the fuss is about anyway. I’ve been alone all for the most of it, and I only ever put bricks on top of the other and the other and the other, and I was not even very good at that. They say it is unskilled but my walls were unskilled unskilled. You know, I guarded the last inmate of Spandau Prison. Hess. Rudolf Hess. This old body stood guard over Hess. Where did I shit then? It’s funny isn’t it that we cannot remember where we have shat at important times in our lives even though it is a life-saving act: to open the bowel. Later, I was invited to be a mercenary in the Angolan war. They used to invite people like me, unschooled brickies, before we had wet wodges stuffed up our arses. A hundred and fifty quid to kill a few coloureds. I would have shat myself in the war. I would have shat myself properly. Not any of this processed food shit. It would have been proper shit. So anyway, so they put the tube in to my neck, at such a position that I cannot reach it because my arms and wrists are too stiff to twist the necessary amount to pull it out. I don’t have the strength at that angle. Yet I can raise my hand to my head. I raise it to my head and slap it down hard and heavy onto the small thinning pad of silver hair there. I feel that slap. And I can rub the hand to the back of the head and to the front. Aches. But that arm was always the best and it still moves and responds and is what makes me keep going in this life. Perhaps it is what makes them think that I must go on being injected with liquidised food through my neck that squirts out between the flaps of skin and onto the pad. My last Christmas.