I run into VT in town – Soho, possibly, that’s where I usually see him; he’s a maître d’, a barker, a whipper-in for fancy restaurants, that sort of thing. I associate him with the food = culture equivalence of the 1990s, but not as if he’s personally to blame. I must have sat opposite to him at mutual friends’ dinners, or talked to him at a rarely attended arty party – at any rate, I feel I know him well enough; know of his divorce, his children – one of them with coeliac disease – his taste in suits (which is good, a big, gingerish man, with emergent jowls he nonetheless manages to be fiercely dapper, today in a double-breasted lavender jacket…), his difficult childhood – in part, he said, because he had a club foot. He hales me, we chat of this and that. He’s always warm – it would be egregious if he weren’t such a gentle and inoffensive person. He has a series of eight-to-twelve inch long crescent-shaped growths that have erupted along his hairline and from the back of his head and which form a sort of irregular basketry. These appear to be of some hard material – like toenail – but are dark and segmented, and covered in a rather repulsive flaky white substance that puts me in mind of vernix. I don’t mention the growths for quite a while, but then casually ask what they are. VT says they’re psoriasis, which I don’t believe, although I don’t challenge him – he goes on his way down the street, the excrescence quite monstrous – after all, everyone’s illness is their own affair.