We look at each other. I wonder what he sees in my face. Does he notice the same slackening of flesh about the jaw, the same crazing of skin around the eyes. His hair is gone, any middle-aged thinning swept away with a barber's razor; whereas mine is as long as it was, a few white hairs richer, the end of a cycle from 'pixie-cut' to shoulder length bob to long again.
'It's upstairs,' I tell him and run up to show him that really nothing's changed. The person you see is the person I was.
Outside again we stare at the wall then he turns his light eyes fixing onto mine. 'Hundred quid? OK?'
'It won't be me. OK? I've got some lads now.'
I smile. Before he was on his own. Before he came alone and was as mean with words as he is now.
Then suddenly I'm telling him stuff: about the guttering that's not quite right, about the pointing that needs replacing, talking and talking as if I don't want him to go, as if, by talking, I could go back in time and everything would be as it was.