Permalink Fri 20th February 2015

It's Donna's birthday. I am a bit tired and emotional and I keep repeating a song that we danced to last year and which moves me to --- at least having to wipe my eyes.

From: looby
To: Donna
Subject: I know...
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2015 20:18:10

...that this is a very sloppy thing to say, but using the flimsy excuse that it's your birthday I'll say it and then get my coat.

This, in my mind, was your song. Had things been different, I would have done anything in my power to make you my girlfriend and would have bent over backwards to make myself similarly attractive to you. I miss you from time to time. As someone who hasn't ever experienced what other people call love, I had the most delicious taste with you of knowing what that might mean. The incredible sex helped, too.

But it was just a brief time and it's easy to over-project. It's easy to view a putative future favourably when we didn't have enough time to get on each other's nerves.

Nonetheless, it is still true that you are a special and unforgettable person who affected me in ways I didn't think possible.
Happy birthday X

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Go big, or go home

Permalink Thu 19th February 2015

I spent a night in prison on Saturday -- that is, the former prison in Lancaster Castle -- which nearly turned into a spell in the loony bin. Ye DJs of yore from Ye Olde Haçienda were playing. Unfortunately I didn't experience much of it, due to a slight dosage miscalculation beforehand with the peppermint tea.

I don't want to discourage Trina's ventures into the deeper end of dance music but she was irritating me, constantly touching me to assuage her anxiety about everything. The prison is just as it was left when it closed, and you can dance on the upper floor walkways or down in the main assembly area. The kaleidoscopic light show was as synaesthetically heady as the music, which was much more driving and techno-y than I'd guessed it would be.

How long I lasted I don't know, but there is a gap in my memory between dancing and talking to someone I know, then standing outside for a long time and boring the very patient security staff to tears with an hours-long monologue, loosely based around the theme of death, and my important and solipsistically described role in the carbon cycle. In the meantime I'd lost Trina.

All of a sudden, an ambulance turned up and took me to A & E, where I sat for half an hour next to a man with dried blood all over his head, before discharging myself. I went back to mine, and got into bed with Trina. She said she'd got lost and had taken a long time to get home. We had sex, the selfish sort that I enjoy the most, where I do the talking; we both came.

As a responsible father, I then went back to Kirsty's, because I "look after", in an increasingly loose sense, my girls at the weekends. I was still a few hours from feeling normal, but I passed it off as lack of sleep and too much drink, thereby sustaining the open secret that the close adults in their lives are fond of peppermint tea and similar refreshments.

I handed the girls back at 7ish when Kirsty and boyf turned up. "Oh no," said boyf. "You'd have been better off down the loony bin. Take it from someone who knows!"

Around midday on Monday, Erica rang. "So then, are you OK?" A friend of hers had been trying to help me and had told her about this "crazy guy" at the rave, and Erica worked out who it was. She told me that the door staff had told the police that they thought I ought to be sectioned, advice which the police didn't follow.

I found the girl who had tried to help me on Erica's snoopbook page.

"So anyway," continued Erica. "Do you fancy a quickie down the pub?" They walked in; sympathetic laughing and generous handshakes and kisses. Slightly Coarse Husband said not to worry. "Go big, or go home." "Yeah well, I'm not doing that again." "You will."

Donna's birthday tomorrow. I sent her a card which I found months ago, a stylised bird with wire-like limbs, its body coloured in kitschy artificial colours similar to those in a print in her house. "...And by the way, your friend in the north still thinks you are witty, intelligent, stylish, and very, very sexy." It's getting too late to say it really, but what the fuck.

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Last day of school

Permalink Fri 13th February 2015

The last parents' evening I'll ever go to. In the school's foyer is a box marked "Bullying and suggestion box." "Well, you could post an anonymous note on her desk saying that with tits that ugly she's bound to get breast cancer," I didn't write.

Teachers are arranged at desks in the hall in a serried exam grid formation, sitting in front of leaves of stats. "Nothing to worry about, except that I'll be sad to see them go," said Drama. I went with Jenny to speak to the teacher of her weakest subject, Maths, and was relieved to hear that she's on course for a B. I was attentive to what she was saying to the extent that Ms Thornton's grey shift dress, taut against her thighs under the next table, allowed. Jenny's eyes glazed over at the offer of lunchtime revision sessions to improve her grade. "She just needs a C, never to visit an equation again," we were both thinking.

Me and Melanie took ourselves off to scoff on the buffet. Spring rolls, cheese and tomato sandwiches, that sort of thing. In the any other comments box in the questionnaire afterwards, I wrote "I am very appreciative of everything that the teachers in this school have done for my children." When my girls leave, we must do something for them. It's a proper comprehensive school and the best school in Lancaster. The Girls' Grammar really only has one subject, How To Avoid Associating With the Coarse, the Poor and the Over-Sensual.

Slightly fucked it up with Wendy by pushing the sexting a bit too far at a drunkenly turned-on half past two in the morning. "I do apologise," I wrote in the admonishing light of day. "I will attempt to recover whatever shreds of decorum I once possessed." She's my project.

The plan was that we would be dancing together on Saturday. But instead it'll just be me and Trina, in Lancaster Castle for a short overnight sentence. It had been a prison for hundreds of years until it closed in 2011, and now an enterprising group of yoof run events in it featuring music "wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats," to use the definition in the rave-phobic Criminal Justice Act of 1994. It's not cheap (£27) but I bumped into someone who helps run it and he said, with enough detail to convince, that they hardly make any money on it. Derrick Carter was the guest last time round and the builders of Lancaster Castle, can't have anticipated this back in the eleventh century.

Today, Wendy told me that she's not going on Saturday because of a close friend's bereavement. That's a great shame, although a triangle with me, Trina and Wendy would have been a bit of a diplomatic challenge.

Jenny's off to an audition with the National Youth Theatre in a couple of weeks -- an audition just to go on a course with them. While reading a bit of the play from which she's chosen her monologue, I came across this.

I pray you, do not fall in love with me,
For I am falser than vows made in wine:
Besides, I like you not.

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Permalink Thu 5th February 2015

To Blackpool, where I am arraigned before the magistrates to explain a slight technical misunderstanding of what one should do with a gas bill.

It's a slab of a building, determined to be grim amidst the surrounding gaiety: in four foot-high plastic letters, the building next door advertises "Funland".

The Court Clerk had no record of me being summoned. I showed him the letter calling me there and he told me to wait. A partially-toothed, heroin- thin girl muttered to herself. A nice-looking boy was being fussed over by his mum.

The bailiff's agent, standing out from the legal sleekness about us in cheap black shoes, jogging trousers and a navy blue fleece, came over and said the same thing. The Clerk said that if no-one from the correct firm of bailiffs had turned up by 10am, I could go. He asked me for my phone number, just in case he was stuck in traffic.

I took a long time over a small breakfast in Wetherspoons, then wandered over to my favourite pub in Blackpool. I got in with the owd fellows at the bar. The man next to me went to the loo. "He has to go every fifteen minutes," said another. "I think it's all in the mind." I told them my Desperate Toilet Anecdote, about coming back on the bus from Keswick after drinking all day, bladder-pressed tears in my eyes at the driver refusing to wait for me to go to the loo when we stopped at Kendal Bus Station.

"Are you from away?" asked the landlord. Not hostile, just clocking an unfamiliar face. "Yes, I'm from Lancaster. I've just been to see a friend of mine in Victoria Hospital. She's a bit poorly with breast cancer." This was true in November.

"If you hang on another half an hour, there's a quiz and a buffet." We talked about shift work and his former job as bus and coachmaker and came second in the quiz by one point. We filled our plates with mini samosas, egg and cress sandwiches on white bread, pork pies, and an unpopular salad. Then it was the bingo. We won nothing, again. It was a rollickingly good afternoon, for which I have to thank Churchill Recovery Solutions Ltd.

In bed, I started thinking about Donna, and Wendy. The married Wendy and me have been flirting for a while, since New Years Eve before last, when we were up in my bedroom powdering our noses and talking about Murakami. We are going, with Kitty, I think, to a ravey do on Valentines Day night. Unfortunately Trina invited herself along, which will put a brake on proceedings, but I'm sure my non-verbal communication can get round that obstacle.

I texted her quite sexually. She responded this afternoon, wittily. I replied:

I'm very glad you took it like that. I would be mortified if I gave you the impression that when I got into bed last night I imagined raking my fingers through your lovely hair and running my hands very slowly down over your tits and on to your beautiful waist and gently kissing you whilst easing your dress off your shoulders and on to the floor. That would be to descend to a level of filth and vulgarity with which I am unacquainted.

For once, I am happy with something I've written.

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Fifteen minutes

Permalink Mon 2nd February 2015

To Preston, where the peasants are revolting, to protest outside the meeting in which the first two fracking licences for Lancashire were to be considered.

Just as I was feeling grumbly about my cold feet and the drizzle, after my gruelling fifteen-minute train journey, along comes a coachload of people from Edinburgh to humble me. I also met people from Pontypridd, Brighton, Wrexham, Sheffield, and several local people whose houses have been damaged by the test drilling that has already taken place.

Someone had arranged for us to have tea and coffee upstairs in the pub. Never has a cup of instant coffee been more gratefully received. We went back outside in time to catch a procession of tractors, from Farmers Against Fracking, who drove at a very slow speed through the centre of Preston. Afterwards, we all repaired back to the pub for a sociable pint or six. It's that side of demos that I like best, almost more than the political outcomes.

I was interviewed by a Norwegian newspaper, although unlike the girl from Sheffield I spent some time talking to, I didn't make the cut into the final article -- click on the image if you fancy practising your Norwegian. A TV crew from Channel 5 came over, saying that my cat had attracted their attention, and threw me a couple of soft questions. I've no idea if I made the news bulletin, but no-one actually watches Channel 5 anyway.

The bailiffs said they were coming round on Friday. Talk about taking away your advantage of surprise. To my relief, Morgane left the house early. Shortly afterwards, the doorbell rang. I stayed in bed for a good hour or so, wondering if they'd be coming round the back to check for open windows or unlocked doors. It was actually Wilma, on her way to work, returning my phone which I'd left at hers the day before.

Her computer wouldn't boot up, but I got it sorted. It took me over three hours, during which she got through a couple of bottles of wine and I got through several pints. She is keen to remind me all the time that she's an alcoholic, but I sometimes wonder whether that's an elective affinity than an actual condition.

Like me, she's a heavy, habitual drinker. Unlike me, she's a depressive, a textbook example of maternal deprivation and paternal violence. There's something appealing about her honesty though, and I nodded and hmmed through her oscillation between not wanting a man one minute and wanting to be "treated like a princess" the next. We ended up in bed once, a bizarre near-sex experience, with her alternatively pushing me off and then violently pressing me against her again.

Morgane has applied to go on Come Dine With Me. She's got through the initial sift and the TV company are coming round on Wednesday to have a look at the house. She sent me a text message the other day apologising for not mentioning it, and hoping it was OK with me. I replied enthusiastically, saying I thought it's a great idea.

I got home from the fracking demo, elated, and told Trina about the Come Dine With Me idea. She was relentlessly pessimistic about it. Morgane came in, struggling her bike through the front door, mud spattered on her legs, not reaching the hem of the latest of her gorgeous charity shop dresses. She is a great dresser. Morgane and me talked Trina's gloom down. I told Morgane that there was enough minestrone for her if she was hungry. Please come and sit here with me and counteract the miserable mood my patron is creating.

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