Kim was off her head the other night. In an admirable act of forethought, she maxed out her credit card on something in the week before it became illegal, and is blessed with ample stocks.
She left me a long message around midnight. I was asleep and didn't hear it, but turned my phone on when I woke up. Her voice was unintentionally sexy. I texted her to say that it was a pleasure having her in bed with me this morning. She'll literally will be in bed with me on Wednesday, in that unsexed way that is half compliment, half insult.
The woman from the dating site I was supposed to be meeting last week ducked out the day before, saying that she was leaving the site (she's still there) because there are "too many dickheads" and she's "not ready for anything." The crumb I was thrown was an invite to connect on farce book.
Thanks for letting me know. Although can I just say --- having been let down in this way several times before, I wish women would make up their minds before they go on dating sites whether or not they are interested in actually meeting up. Never mind though, I understand that you can sometimes get cold feet.
I'd rather not get in touch on FB. An impersonal, online connection isn't really what I'm looking for.
All the best and hope you have a nice evening.
To London, where my middle daughter was at a summer school at the National Youth Theatre. My youngest had been warning her about the effects of the city's miasma, and as we set off to the station, she opened the front door and yelled down the street "Don't come back a wanker!"
I am out of practice with London, and I underestimated the amount of time it would take to get out to Greenwich and back to Victoria. I missed my coach, so blagged the train instead, working myself up into that quality of lying in which you almost convince yourself. It was a hot day and I was pleased to notice a speckle of sweat on my forehead, which I hoped the guard would take as an indication of honest anxiety."Right, it's OK, just calm down. Just take a seat and I'll be with you in a bit."
We sped through Milton Keynes, Donna's home town, and I started mentally re-running, for the hundredth time, the Sex on the Stairs Session.
The guard came along. "Look, it's alright. You can tell the genuine ones. I'm happy to accept you've made a genuine mistake, so you'll be OK to Lancaster."
I had also lost my phone, so I asked to borrow one from the man sitting opposite me to inform Trina, who was meeting me at the station. The following day, I discovered that when he got off the train at Crewe, he'd texted her. "Hi this is the man from the train. Sounds like your friend's had a really awful day, so I hope you're going to take him out for a couple of pints tonight!" How exquisitely kind, searching and flirty.
The look of love
I went back down a fortnight later to fetch her. I stayed in a hostel in Elephant and Castle, whose one redeeming feature is that it's far too rough an area for the hectares of cawing American tourists that waddle all over the canonised bits of London. (Do they not have long trousers in America?)
I went to a pub where groups of elderly black men with greying hair and pork pie hats looked as though they'd just finished putting down some backing tracks on a Cameo album. I got talking to someone about shoplifting; he'd been made redundant from his job as an assistant supermarket manager.
At closing time, he said that there was another real ale place a little way off. Rather disinhibited at this stage, I said "Would you mind if I gave you a snog?" "Not in here!" he said, with some alarm; and I felt incredibly stupid, finished my pint and bade him goodnight.
Trina had an early meeting in Burnley, and was staying in a budget hotel there. I was rather elbowed out from my house for the night. A Chinese girl, to whom I'd explained that there would be a room coming up in about a week to ten days' time, turned up to have a look round, then informed me that she'd like to move in that afternoon, as she had nowhere to stay.
I told her she could go on the settee for a few days. Then the other lodger informed me that there was a couchsurfer coming that night and asked me if he could sleep on the sofa. I asked Trina if she fancied a bit of company in Burnley, and moved the Chinese girl into my room.
In a beautiful old pub, we got talking to the blokes on the next table. It was slightly awkward as they were on a lower level, so they eventually all moved up to ours. The elderly man sitting next to me noticed I'd taken my shoes off. "Yes," I said, "I know it's not very classy but my feet are hot."
He bent down and massaged my feet for a few seconds. "I've got a foot fetish, you know. If I was to suck your toes, my cock would get hard."
A younger man with such a large chip on his shoulder that I'm surprised he could stand up straight, was telling us over and over again that he's been told he's one of the best songwriters in the country, and that he's a plumber's son and has lived in Burnley all his life. He kept interrupting us with question of the form "What about..." and then it would be Plato or Marx or someone.
I had ignored him up to that point but couldn't stop myself. "Oh God this is boring mate. I feel like I'm being quizzed about my knowledge of the Routledge Very Short Introductions series." This made him quite aggressive and he told us to "get out of Burnley", which had a comical opposite effect to that which he was trying to create.
We turned back to the mixture of conversation and foot massage. At the end, I gave the footman my card. The following morning, there was a message from him. "Hello, it's Ernest. I would love to suck your toes. I think you're a lovely man and if you would like to ring me and let me suck your toes, it's [number]. I would just like to do that and give you a cuddle and be kind to you."
I wanted to follow it up fairly swiftly with Tilly, the tall blonde ex-work colleague, so I wrote her a note, got the Womanly Seal of Approval after clearing it with Erica first, then dropped it round to her house.
I hope you enjoyed trip round the north last week and didn't attract too much attention from the police or strange men.
There's a bit of an open-air music thing going on in Morecambe on Sunday. I'm going anyway and I was wondering if you fancied sharing my tartan rug and a bottle of Prosecco. Would be lovely to see you there if you fancied it.
Sunday came and went, and by reply, I received nothing at all. Not even a "thanks but no thanks", nothing. I was in the pub a few days later with Erica and a couple of other people, and she said that there must have been something wrong there -- perhaps she'd lost her phone or something.
I'm not sure what I should do now. I'm not begging. If she's not interested, that's the end of it.
A friend of mine died recently. I've known him since I was fifteen; he was only two years older than me. I haven't got a proper will, just a Statement of Wishes, since I've absolutely nothing to bequeath, no property, no savings, or pension, but I did say that my friend could have my records, a patchwork quilt of mismatched vinyl, which ranges from my first true loves -- disco, jazz-funk, and modern soul and has brances including Belgian hoover techno, 50s and 60s bebop, contemporary classical music, Austro-German lieder, and a Nana Mouskouri boxed set that I hide when girls come round.
On the one and only time he invited me to DJ -- he had a good eye for spotting who had a future in the field -- he came over to me at Morecambe and in the polite but anxious way he sometimes had of speaking to you, he said to me --- "Looby, can we get it back on track mate?"
He had the poor taste to die on the same morning that another friend was getting married. I lasted the ceremony and standing about a bit afterwards, but the thought of Terry was too strong and I went home. Trina was over for the day and I'm glad she was -- I just wanted to talk about Terry for a while.
His funeral was High Catholic, all incense and fabulous doctrine, but the wake was a boozy nationwide gathering of the soul clan. Next day we did what he'd have liked best -- had a proper bop for him in St Annes, where they put a framed picture of him at the front of the DJ booth.
A month or so ago me and Trina were in a pub in Ormskirk and got chatting to these two Scousers, one of whom told us that he was doing a literary and historical tour of the pubs of Liverpool last Friday. I gave him my card -- yes, we have those in Lancashire too -- but he didn't ring.
Nevertheless we turned up at the correct time and place to find no-one in the pub knew anything about it; so we did it ourselves, and spent several hours chatting to people whom I understood most of the time. We went round four proper old English boozers, drinking interesting, unusual ales at prices generally lower than in Lancaster and marvelling at Liverpool's Victorian pub architecture.
I kept a list of what I'd been drinking and after calculating that I'd had ten-and-a-half pints on Friday, decided the safest course was just to carry on all weekend, and ended up in that lovely, glassy state of benevolence and carelessness by the time Kirsty and boyf got back on Sunday night.
Kitty's got six weeks off, and is using the time wisely, doing very little. However, she does ask me and Wendy round for the occasional soirèe, after one of which she sent the postcard above. I texted her the other day at round about noon, and she replied saying "Only just got up and been to the offy already! Oops!" "Some are born to greatness," I responded, "others are born to the chaise-longue X".
In Dating News, I contacted a woman yesterday. Lives in a tarty seaside resort not far from here. Liked much of what she said, but the clincher was that her idea of a good first date is sitting in a cinema watching a subtitled film with little plot and even less action. Shame she's a smoker but we'll overlook that for the time being.
She replied the same evening, bit of banter this morning, and we're meeting in Garstang on Thursday week.
Faces contorted with hate, the floppy-hatted Prosecco-swigging socialists of Lancashire's anti-fracking rabble loll about plotting their next move.
I have mainly been opposing fracking.
The louche scene above took place at a picnic we held at Lytham windmill to celebrate Lancashire County Council's refusal of the first two fracking applications in the county. The councillors voted 9-2 against, despite what one article called "a morass of pro-fracking bias and legal and scientific misrepresentation from those meant to be providing impartial advice." It was a relief to do something purely enjoyable for a change, rather than standing around for seven hours outside County Hall.
They were long days, but not without their pleasures. And if anyone thinks that the reason I went and spoke to her had anything to do with her strikingly gorgeous face, the beautiful long bunches of the world's best hair colour on a woman, her lovely smile, her fantastic charity shop hat and secondhand dress combo, the latter of which slinked attractively over her lovely hips, well then, I pity you for how shallow you are in your evaluation of women.
We had Farmers Against Fracking drive slowly up the main drag to deliver a trailer-load of frack-free Lancashire produce -- strawberries, eggs, cheese and other things in which we excel. We had the police take over the percussion for a few minutes. I was interviewed by someone from a Norwegian newspaper, and had my fifteen seconds of fame on the news one night on that prominent media organ, Channel 5.
Mid-afternoon at the back end of last month, we all went quiet as the decision was about to be made, huddling around a computer which was relaying the live stream from inside County Hall.
This is how I wrote about it at the time.
I am absolutely exhilarated with the decision to reject fracking in Lancashire today, and am glossy-eyed with pride that Lancashire's county councillors have shown immense courage in the face of intimidation, verbal and written threats, and an Infrastructure Act which begins the task of dismantling planning law that the Conservatives passed as soon as they returned to power.
I am FUCKING PROUD today to be from Lancashire, because standing up to corporate power and the arrogance of these rich kid shits we are governed by, takes guts. We have shown that this county will not be a pushover.
A small socialist sherry was had afterwards, but it's far from over, and there'll be more on this story soon.
You will no doubt
not remember my tall, blonde ex-work colleague and long-time neighbour, who sports a fine line in the tight trouser, who turned up on the dancefloor at Morecambe a few weeks ago and requested my complicity in getting rid of her date.
During some flirty banter with her and her mum the other day, I said that I'd bumped into her sister at the beer and wine tasting at the Town Hall. We chatted a while, my head ringing with the knowledge she was single. When I got home I had the idea of inviting her to our wine club meeting. I wrote a note doing this, in which I attempted to continue the flirtatious tone of the evening.
She texted back and said that her daughter was having an exhibition opening that night, in the local yoghurt knitter's bar, but if I were interested in seeing it she'd be happy to meet me there for a drink another day.
Both Tilly and her mum Renee turned up. I had made a bit of an effort, attempting to signal that was interested in something other than her daughter's photography. I was relieved that I had, since Tilly was wearing a beautiful and quite revealing dress in green and cream and a thin margin of black bra. They're both good fun to be around. Scousers, so I don't have to censor my speech.
"The art of wooing is dead," said Tilly. Hmm. Do you think so? She's away with work all this week but I might try to find something to suggest to her for the next.
Thursday was a good day. 1) My actual plastic Booths loyalty card arrived. 2) My youngest just casually mentioned that when she went to Morecambe on Saturday she bought an album by Sun Ra. 3) I concluded a brief meeting with a few young lads in the pub, who joined us on our table, by saying "Right we're fucking off, 'cos you sound like a right bunch of boring cunts," which resulted in laughter and handshakes.
This proves: I am proper middle class; I have finally achieved something as a father; and that I am from Lancashire.
But my most momentous news -- well, apart from a funeral and a wedding, which I'll leave till next time -- is that Trina went on a date.
It's someone we both know from the house music event we go to. Trina said that he talked about himself all the time --- I gather some men even set up websites in which to do this --- and smoked throughout. He made a tea of overcooked pasta on top of which he'd poured a tin of tomatoes, and the apple strudel was shop-bought and microwaved. He said that he bought a dozen copies of a book called "How To DJ." He doesn't DJ himself but in a helpful spirit he's given the book to some of the most practised and talented DJs in the north of England.
The date didn't work, but I'm hoping that this indicates -- finally, after three years -- that Trina is becoming more autonomous.
I nearly chatted someone up today.
I was in the pub with Vic and recognised a girl we had a drunken chat to in a similar situation a couple of weeks ago. I asked her over to our table, from which moment the awareness that I was being rude in shunning Vic was insufficient to temper my interest in the girl. We bantered for a while, during which I gave her my number. "I like sex, and drinking, but I've never had much love," she said. Usual tale of heightened sexual response as a delayed result of maternal deprivation. We left together, but only because she had a doctor's appointment. She kissed me on the lips and said "Don't take it wrong, but I don't go for older blokes." "You cheeky bugger," I said, before realising that 51 minus 27 is 24.
Trina drove us up to Middlesbrough to see my mum for a couple of days. We went in her flash 80s sports car, with its pop-up square headlights and roaring engine. We stopped for something to eat in Bishop Auckland. I had a "Butternut Squash Curry", which was a clever joke dish intended to recreate the self-improving suffering of early British vegetarian cooking, in which you could charge good money for serving Vegetables in Water Sauce With Spice Rack-Aged Chilli Powder.
On the Thursday night my sister took us out to a new cocktail bar. Her boyfriend is adept at keeping her indoors with their toddlers, so it was a rare pleasure for her to get out. She's a very attractive girl and because I see her so rarely there were a few moment when the shadow-self intervened to correct my reactions. Feeling over-manly for my income, I waved aside Trina and Sis's offers to contribute to the bill for two bottles of containerised Malbec. 43 quid. Fuck. In Middlesbrough?
I wanted to broach the subject of debt with Mum. Not that I could do pay them off, but I'm quite experienced at bureaucratically avoiding them. I needn't have worried. "Dad's debts came to about nine thousand pounds, but they've written them all off." I thought it'd be more than that. "He used to buy things and just put them on the credit card. He said to me one day "'Would you like a tumble drier?' And I told him 'No, not really --- we've managed for fifty years without one.' And a couple of days later it was there. This big van from Argos turned up and they installed it. I never use it."
She said that she feels better off than ever now, now that she controls the income, which as far as I can see, consists of a State Pension, since my Dad's pension was rescinded after he had an affair with one of his parishioners.
When we got back me to mine, me and Trina and put some music on and we danced about a bit and threw a few pints down our necks, and then had sex. I wish I could stop doing this. It's the wrong form of desire, and it gives her encouragement.
A righter form of desire would present itself in the shape of Wendy, who has recently split up from Slightly Controlling Husband. Me and Kitty wound up back at hers at the weekend. "I'm a lot better off now, now that I have control of the money." I told her about my Mum saying the same thing. He's a Lecturer at the Ribble Valley University of Work Discipline so what the fuck he was doing taking the Tax Credits into his own bank account, when she does almost all of the childcare whilst doing a job that hardly gets into even the first tax band, I don't know.
She had on the same tight, secondhand green dress she was wearing at my NYE party. She was limitlessly generous with the wine, never too pissed or speeding to fail to notice an empty glass. It's so important to do that. Always have enough in and never make anyone have to go to the offy. Her and Kitty are model hostesses. I spread the love in a more desiccated form.
Another couple, whom I've met once before turned up. She's one of these raggle-haired witch-like women who want to be bohemian but lack the dress sense and the intelligence to become so. She started talking about children. The whole point of today love, is that yes we're all parents, but we're away from them for one precious day, so can we talk about something else? In that lazy, intolerant way that is the privilege of men, I left her to witter on about schools and so on, to Kitty.
Her boyfriend was more interesting. His knee's fucked from a failed suicide attempt, but he was quite other-directed for a suicider -- a group with whom I have little sympathy, given that they are apt to making an aggressive gesture designed to fuck up the people who have loved them. Do it on the quiet with some fentanyl. Don't make a fucking song and dance of it.
Wendy texted me today. "You forgot the Murakami." She is pressing The Wind-up Bird Chronicles on me and she'd given me a copy at the do and I'd left it there. "I'll drop it round sometime." "Oh please do, but only when we could be detained with a glass or two of something effervescent."
She went to a book launch the other day where there was a bit of free wine going. She said that at the end, she ended up in a bit of a contest for the last bottle of wine. "The girl was trying it to wrest it out of my hand! I told her 'Yes -- you might look all trendy with your piercings, but you're just a conformist." In revenge for this, she stole a book. I imagine the beleaguered staff member, on 6.50 an hour, but now into her unpaid time, might have turned a blind eye to her theft just to get rid of her.
I was asked to help out at a wine and beer tasting at the Town Hall the other day. I was given a table in our woody, portrait-y Edwardian Banqueting Suite, and enjoyed three hours talking about the beer, which came from Belgium, the US, Germany, and a canned IPA from north London.
As I locked my bike up outside, a wino who'd been sitting in the adjoining gardens came up to me. He informed me that he was an ex-soldier and that he'd be "kicking off in there in a minute." "Jolly good," I said. He managed to get in before we were open to the public but was politely ejected before he could practice his penalties.
Morgane's mum's sister was there. I was aware of staring at her for a couple of seconds too long, but she is so attractive it's an effort not to. We chatted for a little while and I noted that she is still with the angular-headed Christian. A few years ago, when I was going out with Morgane's mum Felicity, we were all sitting around at the Chilli Festival at Levens Hall, where Anglehead's children were testing my ability to restrain a laughter that would have been impolite. "Daddy believes in the Bible," one of them loudly declared, in a tone weighted with the precise ambivalence between factual statement and mocking pisstake in which teenage girls are expert.
I met Kirsty's neighbour's daughter, and made a point of asking her whether her sister is single. I know full well she is, having been told this by the girl herself on the dancefloor at North Lancs Soul Festival couple of weeks ago, but I hoped she'd pass on the enquiry.
On Thursday I was contacted on the dating site by this gorgeous Irish redhead, whose interests include real ale and foreign films. There was something I wanted to see at the pictures yesterday and I thought there'd be no harm in suggesting it to her. She said she was going too, with a friend, but suggested we meet up an hour or so beforehand.
In her initial message, she said how much she liked a Belgian beer that I mention on my profile. As I had been paid partly in beer at the beer tasting, I wrapped up a bottle of Brooklyn Blast IPA (8.4%) in some reused shiny purple wrapping paper, as a little present, and went to faff about with my hair and clothes. Eventually but only last minute happy, I rushed out to meet her, forgetting to take the beer.
She was every bit as attractive as her photo had suggested. Beautiful long curly ginger hair resting sexually on her tits. We chatted away easily enough in Lancaster's All Fur Coat And No Knickers pub before walking to the cinema. A Pigeon... is a surreal, straightfaced satire, wittily knowing about the specifically Swedish form of dour. She, on the other hand, thought it a waste of two hours of her life. I went to the loo and stopped a couple, complete strangers, to ask them what they thought of it, so desperate was I to gabble on about what I thought was a masterpiece, a modern dreaming Buñuel. The man I knobbled had seen Andersson's entire oeuvre and recommended another of his films: such are the little serendipitous joys of living in Lancaster.
Her friend joined us afterwards, having put a respectful several rows between us during the film. I was hoping we might go next door, where there's a proper English boozer, but we sat in the theatre's bar, a place whose bleak design and high prices might have been designed to prolong the stark air of a Swedish arthouse film.
Me and the Irish girl walked home in the same direction -- turns out she lives just a couple of streets away. It was time for the goodbyes. "Well, OK then. I'm not getting any spark," she said. "Er... no, er... yes, I don't know." I had forgotten we were on a date. This is the third date in a row where the woman has said the same thing at the end of the evening.
This morning I sent her a message saying that it was a pleasure to meet her "and I can't think that someone as good-looking and lively as you will be short of offers." "Yes, not short of offers," she said. "Most of which begin and end 'hi babe'." She said that if ever I'm in need of filmic company to give her a bell.
I'm not sure. One can't help but take such rejections personally, since they are precisely that; and I think there'd always be another agenda apart from the film, of trying to win her round, and I don't even want to put myself in that position. It is a shame modern daters expect everything to happen so quickly, with attraction expected to flare on the first evening together.
In the pub the other day I saw a friend leaning on the bar, about to pay with a twenty pound note. He's a loveable man, stooped and unbarbered, with that panicked look to a point in the middle distance that the infirm elderly often carry round. I've been wondering for years how to phrase this: "Listen Issac, I'll miss you when you're gone, and I'd like you to give my number to someone who could notify me when you're on your way to the crem."
I went to walk past him, then quickly reached back round his shoulders to nip the note out of his hand. I fluffed it and the note stayed where it was. We got talking, and he told me he'd just won a thousand pounds, and gave me the twenty.
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