He is fine-boned, slick, agreeable, and dressed to kill in his sharp black suit, winey vest, knotted brown tie. His hair is oiled. His lips are fevered and red as two buds. For a long while he stands there, eyeing me, before he opens his mouth.

‘You’re not pretty,’ are the first words he speaks.

And I, who have never bit off my words even to a customer, am surprised into a wounded silence, although I don’t look in the mirror for pleasure, but only to take stock of the night’s damage.

Getting The Words Out