"Mr Bushell! How lovely to hear you, Dear Boy. How are you?"
"I am fine, thank you. How are you?"
"I am croaking. This will be the last time we speak to each other, I think." (I come clean about prior knowledge)
"Yes, so I heard. Remind me what it is again?"
"Lung cancer, but I am extremely fortunate. I am in no pain and the doctor says that I will just not wake up one morning."
"Which morning will that not be, have you any idea?"
"Two to three weeks, I think. Emma has just left. I am so fortunate to have the children living close by. How's Jackie?"
"Oh, she's fine, thanks. She's out just now, otherwise I would hand you over."
"How's things in Bath? How's Rupert?"
"He died about 4 years ago, followed about 6 months later by Sheila."
"Oh, did he? Did she? How's Robbie?"
"He died too. Emphysema. That was about 3 years ago."
"Ah. How's Jeff from The Yellow Shop?"
"He's fine, but his mother died 2 weeks ago." (Jeff is almost 70)
"Ah. Some stupid cancer research charity contacted me the other day, and said that with the right funding, they could eradicate cancer in a matter of years. Then where will we be? We've got to die of something, and I am 83. I don't think many people will be coming to my send-off."
"You might be surprised if you were around to witness it."
I remember all those days and nights in the Paragon Wine Bar, the loves and arguments, the friends overseas who still hanker after those days, but - surprisingly - I do not feel sad. I feel almost as fortunate as Colin seems to.
"Anyway, Dear Boy, lovely to hear from you, but I am getting tired now so I have to go. I will get Emma to call you to let you know when I die. Goodbye. God bless."
I didn't tell him I loved him, but maybe - hopefully - I didn't have to.