I SELF PORTRAIT WITH BAY, 1909. Water colour and oil. The National Gallery. Leaves? Body of water? Scent? Misspelled potentate? He is now 137 years old, or 85. Decades fall like wooden chairs before his inattention. His hair is countable: a couple of hundred strands, more or less. Babies and old men don't bother to look like human beings: their faces have other needy purposes. Once he was plume-y and had a lovely profile, a favorite of snap shooting women friends; no shoulders to speak of but “nice” hands. When he painted this self portrait he sat askance a wardrobe mirror, wearing a dressing gown. She (unknown) liked him without his clothes. “It doesn't look like you! It doesn't look human!” she said. And now that her prophecy’s answered, nobody can remember what the last word means.

— Does it refer to that blue bit lower right, sir?

— I don’t know.