Xiuying, Chinese herbalist, said she must send for Mr Yong and get a second opinion on my worrying tongue.
‘What is it your job, please?’ she had asked, once I was lying still and not rustling the paper sheet on the cot. ‘And give me your wrist fully.’
I told her, ‘I’m a character actor with ballet skills.’
‘And what are you performing just now? A sad, distressed character?’
‘Yes, in my comedy show Ballet Star Galactica, I play Giselle. A peasant girl, who is jilted, goes insane and kills herself.’
Xiuying clicked her own tongue a number of times — worrying — then asked, ‘Do you like having a kidney function, even a kidney function that’s not very good? Then you must stop performing this thing.’
‘I can’t cancel tomorrow’s gig. I’m in Leigh-on-Sea. Back by Popular Demand.’ That was spin — actually, I’d just hired the Methodist Hall again. ‘Can’t I just have herbs?’
I’d had them before. They tasted like melon, Christmas pudding and fox shit.
‘Everyone can have herbs,’ Xiuying said, rolling her eyes. ‘But the psyche cannot tell the difference between what is real or not — and every night you play this terrible, sad life out. It is failing your kidneys. Both of them. That’s how bad. Even if we give you the herbs, you must stop performing for two weeks. And now, I am fetching Mr Yong. I don’t think he will be pleased to see such a tongue as yours.’
Actually, Mr Yong was philosophical seeing such a tongue as mine.
He and I came to an agreement. Every so often, I knock on the window of the Chinese herbalist and show Mr Yong my tongue. He’ll either wave me along or beckon me in, depending.