Car 1

Mr Richard Tomlinson

Outward appearance

Stocky, middle aged man, athletic build. Rumpled face, very pink, with pure white hair. Blue jeans, anorak, woolly red hat. He seems lost in thought.

Inside information

He is returning from hospital having failed to convince them to let him die. This is his second bout of pneumonia and he has survived three suicide attempts. One left him in a wrecked car, sick but alive, in the pouring rain at one in the morning. None of his friends know he is ill -- except one, Passenger 235, who withdrew from him in fear and disgust. Richard lost heart after that.

What he is doing or thinking

Dying is a full time job. Politics never let up. Richard had the support of one doctor, but after a battery of interviews, they decided that to offer him two more years of declining life.

Richard's anger at the hospital is cold, shaped by logic. It is not for them to tell him he must live. They have not had anal herpes that feels like a lighted match on an open wound. They have not had the giddy spells, the eye infections, the thrush. As far as possible he wanted a normal life. That is no longer is possible.

The best they could do is let him go home. Despite his size, he is very weak and cannot breathe. He has just enough strength left to walk from the tube, and draw the curtains and listen to Mozart and let the pneumonia blossom. An answer machine will take all his calls.

He goes on to Elephant and Castle .

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