So then, tell me looby, what are you looking for, in terms of a relationship?
Well, ideally, I'd like to meet a girl with whom I could develop an intensity of feeling sufficient to drown out the futile, one-sided longing I have for someone who will never reciprocate it.
Well, there you go. Is that the time? Mustn't miss my train!
Wendy came round the other day, another chatty, stoned afternoon watching the the coal fire like a mesmerising television channel. I misheard her when she asked "Did your package come through?", hearing it as "Did a giraffe come through?"
I've got to give up. I've got to train my mind and my desire away from her. She's not interested, and it's debasing to myself, my character and my dignity and my adulthood, to be insufficient a master of myself to lack the practical means by which I can shut this down. I am colonised by my own unreturned feelings.
I get so much help, kindness, compassion, and encouragement from others, every single day; but I want to give now. I want to give affection, I want to make that effortless effort that is loving someone. I want to share someone else's hopes and desires and difficulties as my own. But there's only one person I want to do that with.
Maybe, through this blog, I hope that talking about it all the time will help it go away. Fucking pathetic. But what else can I do?
I contacted someone on the dating site the other day who said that she was in an open marriage and was "looking for a sort of part-time boyfriend". She wasn't that good-looking but the proposal was interesting. She replied thanking me for my interest and saying that she was getting involved with someone else. Well take your fucking profile down then.
Trina, watching my face as she said it -- her own lit with anticipated Schadenfruede -- told me that Helen had said to her, "[looby's] just one in a long line of [Wendy's] admirers." "As if I don't know that, Trina," I said.
At the bar, the barmaid says "so when are you and me going out for a drink then?" A couple of weeks ago, through a seemingly unremarkable exchange, I had an apprehension that she knows what I am up to, and sees through the story about me having a cat which provokes the hayfever which makes me sniff and sneeze sometimes, afflictions which by coincidence happen when I return from the loo. We've got Monday pencilled in. She's interesting, and holds something back all the time.
Back at our table, Trina says to someone, "he's an alcoholic. A high-functioning alcoholic, but an alcoholic." I don't know which accusation is the more inaccurate, but the one about being high-functioning is the more insulting.
Wendy pulls her dress up one-handedly while we're kissing, takes hold of my cock, and starts stroking it up and down along her cunt. I want so much to move my hands away from her beautiful waist to rake into her hair, but I am immobilised.
As I unbutton her blouse as slowly as I can, Diane asks "So what's your favourite position?" "That's like saying, 'which do you prefer, cats or France', but how about you lay on the edge of the bed and put your heels on my shoulders?"
Meanwhile, in the unitalicised world, Diane cancels the 11am party in Blackpool. She'd had a long and tiring day at the anti-fracking protest at Little Plumpton. They walk very slowly, almost at a standstill, along the access road to hinder the progress of the infernal machines about to chew up rural mid-Lancashire and spit out millions of gallons of liquid radioactive waste. In their test drill a couple of years ago, they simply poured the waste into the Manchester Ship Canal.
"I'm an anomaly," she texts. "Church on a Thursday, serious drugs on a Friday, Narcotics Anonymous on a Saturday then back to church twice on a Sunday." The only place that really helped her when she was homeless was a local church. "Or a well-rounded person x," I suggest.
The new lodgers, Nadia and boyfriend David, moved in yesterday. A few evenings ago, I got back to find a group of yoof in the living room, playing Leonard Cohen, on vinyl. Nadia was wearing a stripy black and white Breton-y T-shirt and a short brown suede skirt that rode up over her blackly-tighted thighs when she crossed her legs. Thank goodness I have arrived at an age at which I do not notice superficial and irrelevant details about young women, such as their musical tastes.
A previous lodger, who owes me £150, turns up to collect his stuff. I heard through a third party that he is particularly anxious about an expensive Japanese chef's knife, so I hid it behind the bookshelves. I let him in and tell him that I have taken the knife hostage until he pays me the money he owes me." "That's OK," he says, deflating my challenge somewhat.
To Appleby, the town with the cheapest loo roll in England. Can your town beat 16 rolls for £3?
It's a creaky, classy, self-confident hotel, way beyond me at over £200 a night; no canned music, and not a single sighting of a bearded hipster and a girl wearing plastic dragonfly hairgrips, both of whom will end up working for KPMG once they get over their sensitive phase. It's won some award for the best hotel in England for those interested in hunting and fishing, so hipsters in Westmorland probably end up as roadkill.
Trina and I had a bottle of Prosecco when we arrived, peach schnapps (me) and manzanilla sherry (Trina) as aperitifs, and an Alsatian Pinot Blanc with dinner, after which I asked the owner if he had any Calvados. He fetched back two bottles and a magnum of it, the youngest of which was fifteen years old. Back in our room, we opened a bottle of Yellow Tail, which was like drinking nail varnish after such refinement.
Luxuriatedly relaxed, I wasn't expecting Trina to flip so suddenly. She went on a journey round in the same old groove: sniping, tendentious questions to which there is no answer that would please her, a sour mixture of jealousy, aggression and self-dislike.
"Right then Trina, this isn't working for me any more. I'll see you tomorrow," and took myself off to bed. She stayed up, pacing about, talking, sometimes shouting, to herself.
She came to bed three times, wriggling about and talking all the time, masochistically adding sexual desire to the cauldron. I pretended to be in a deep sleep, which wasn't easy, as I was amphetamined, in the mood for talking into dawn. Inconveniently, I was also getting turned on thinking about sex with Wendy and Diane. The fourth time, she drew herself up foetally, and collapsed into sobbing. I put my arm round her, carefully concaving my cock from anywhere touchable.
The following morning, I wanted a clean slate. "Trina, I've been looking forward to this. Could we just have a nice day today? Please, all the drama and stomps and moods -- can we do that in Lancaster? When we get back? Please, Trina, not here." I must remember that Trina has a lower tolerance for alcohol; I don't want either of us to go through this again.
She calmed down as suddenly as she had become unhinged. She genuinely had no recollection of what she had said or done the night before. "You are the kindest and most tolerant person I know." "I know I am, I'd just rather not have to prove it very often." She's in a vortex of unrequited love and desire, and the stress produced by the almost intolerable burden she bears of looking after her demented, doubly-incontinent, 96-year-old mother, all fermented by alcohol. Once her mum dies, we'll see a different Trina.
I count the day a success when you bid farewell to a woman you met three hours earlier in the coarsest language possible.
We spent the following afternoon in the pub, in the ribald, demotic company of three locals. The middleaged woman, especially, was good fun, testing us with her swearing. "You," she said, pointing to me, "are a bell-end. Fucking wind it in." "Here are love, I've got some cream here. Rub it on your tits, might make them a bit bigger."
I'm putting you on tripadvisor," I told her. "'Attractions in Appleby -- ones to avoid'." Somehow they got the idea I was a dentist. One of the party was somewhat gap-toothed. "Tell you what mate, I could make a fucking fortune out of you." A policeman wandered in. "Look, I'm sorry officer. I apologised to her Dad, and I replaced the lawnmower."
At the end they were very warm in their farewells. The woman's Dad said that it had been a great afternoon, "and you made it," which is one of the most pleasing things anyone has said to me for ages.
Missy wasn't finished with me though, landing a kick on my arse. "Fuck off, you bell-end." I went to kick her, missed, and told her she was a fucking Westmorland cunt.
To Blackpool with Trina, for the house and soul weekender.
I was going to stay in a "hotel" chosen on the criterion of price alone, but she said if I gave her the money I'd spent on that, she'd pay well over a hundred pounds extra to get us into a fine mid-nineteenth century hotel with broken pediments into the function rooms and swirly carpets in estuary colours.
I was miffed when a young couple at the next table in the pub where we were meeting mistook us for ballroom dancers, but they were from Ayrshire, and you have to make allowances for people who grow up on a diet of oats and rainwater, washed down with toddies of sectarian bile.
The weekend itself got off to a bumpy start. I can get good friends their wristbands at a discount, but it does involve a bit of co-ordination when I get there, and the timetable went awry by all of fifteen minutes. When Trina arrived in the bar, she had a face that was a physical expression of the voicemail she'd left a few minutes earlier informing me that I was a wanker and suggesting I could fuck off.
We all went next door to the venue, and collected the wristbands for Trina and two girls with homophonic names whom I was also helping out. I naively hoped that we might now be able to restart with a drink and a bit of a catch-up with Marion and Marian, before we started the long and pleasurable hours of dancing, but Trina started berating me for "thinking so little" of her.
Knowing it's pointless presenting my case in such situations, I excused myself with everyone and said that I still had to go back and get ready. Marian leant over and said, sotto voce, "Go and get ready looby -- we'll calm her down." And they did -- the rest of the weekend she was more emollient.
We went for some pálinka in someone's room, which I will blame for my Saturday night, when I found myself doing a spidery 60s arm-wavy dancing, a depravity I do not wish to repeat. And good-looking, well-dressed women everywhere. There was the stupendously attractive one who looks like Kim who seems to be with a different, and older, man each year; and it was undoubtedly the case that Marian was flirting with me.
Sunday dinnertime, and a couple of calming pints in the pub to smooth the morning jitters that can come with my habit. There is always some sort of juvenile dance festival in Blackpool at the same time as our weekender, and the racket of demob-happy eight-year-olds glad to be released from their leotards at last was so jarring that we repaired upstairs, to the floor of cruisewear, a sandbank of beige zip-up cardis.
At the next table, an attractive woman -- mid forties? -- was sitting with a huge man who had an fattily engorged dewlap overhanging his waist, a spectacle which always induces the unwelcome thought about the difficulties such a man must have in finding his penis.
Diane was the same age as me. Thick, naturally kinked and unhairdressered black hair; black denim jacket and black jeans. Her mother left her and her brother for a footballer when she was seven. She's spent the last six years educating herself up to a History degree with the Open University, in the middle of which she'd been homeless for a while. She was now seeing a property developer from Cheshire. Perhaps sensing my nascent interest in Diane, Trina kept turning everything she said back to anecdotes about herself.
Diane told us that she was having problems with her flat. I offered a room or at least a sofa in my house for as long as she'd like it. We swapped numbers and she said she'd get in touch the following day.
That day arrived and by 12ish and I was twitching with wanting to know what was happening, so rang her. She said she'd like to come up with the property developer in a couple of hours, then cancelled that, but texted at 3am: "Gonna come over tomorrow if that's ok with with you, me and a friend T---. I might stay over if u play your cards right lol X".
She turned up with her family friend, whom I assume was acting as insurance against me trying anything on. She told me that she'd ditched the property developer. Too controlling. We had a rather meandering chat with a couple of friends of mine down the pub, before she said she had to get back to sort her flat out. I felt it had petered out already so sent an appreciative text back, which I assumed she'd take as valedictory.
But no; it got quite flirty again tonight. She was getting ready to go out dancing with her friend, a lapdancer -- another Wendy -- and described what she was planning to wear. "Hmmm -- that's a nice image to imagine", I said.
"Tee hee, the dancing or what I'm going to be wearing?"
"Both. I want it all Diane, all the time."
"Ha ha ha, a man after my own heart, or is that body lol."
"Need to get to know the former a bit more first, but the latter's alright x"
"Yeah I believe you looby thousands wouldn't [...]"
"It's all true. Inconveniently, I think you're pretty fit x"
I'm going to hers on Friday. My hopes of getting her on her own are dashed again, as she said that it might turn into a bit of a party, as her friend wants to come round at 11am.
I told her that it was quality to start a party at 11am and said I'd be there a bit after that. "Can't wait xxxxx", she said.
My gut instinct: Diane is another case of over-sexualisation as a result of maternal deprivation. After a brief period of sex -- almost certainly the kind I like, in which the woman is experienced, active but submissive -- I will be offered a role as a "supportive" male friend. I will refuse this role, and this time, it will be me who says goodbye. The ghost of Trish hangs over all this.
I cancelled my New Year's Eve party, ragged out after Kim being here. I put a coal fire in, snuggled up under a blanky with a bottle of port and Kitty's present of Margaret Drabble's collected short stories.
It was delicious, the fire plosively chatting to itself, and no-one here, in this tiringly, relentlessly sociable house. I missed Kim laying stretched out on the opposite sofa, as she has been for the three previous evenings, and our dozing, sleepy, silences. The fire went cold and I dragged myself and the blanky to bed, and woke up on New Year's Day at half past two in the afternoon.
I went straight away to girls' house, because I was "looking after them." I'd bought them a bottle of cava to take to their friend's New Year's Eve party. We all arrived back at Kirsty's within five minutes of each other, they with the unopened bottle of cava. I asked them how the party had gone and they said they'd sat around watching old Doctor Who episodes and had toasted the New Year in with a cup of tea.
We sat about, I started on the Madeira, and we chatted about Groovy Chick and other internet comicals. Middle daughter fretted about how we were going to pay for her to get to Bristol for her audition, and youngest fiddled with her bomber jacket before going upstairs to learn some chords from The Smiths.
Kirsty got back from her boyfriend's, and without me raising it, she once again mentioned the possibility of me moving in to Adelaide St if she went to live with boyf in Kirkby Lonsdale. Two of our daughters were still in the room; it was as if she were announcing this plan officially. To myself, I exult, in my stomach and in my bitten nails, when I imagine this happening. Outwardly, with her, I coolly discuss what might be its mutual advantages, turning my wrist on a pivot to indicate my calm, then pushing down my cuticle with the slant of a front incisor when she's not looking.
Kitty rang. She does this shit French where she addresses me as vous, and asks me what I am doing. Round at hers, it's me, her, Wendy, and The Little Dictator. Kitty does this game with The Little Dictator where she pretends, that she has a secret she wants to share, fuelling a six-year-old's curiosity to burning point. As she gives in and approaches to Kitty's ear, Kitty throws her forcibly back onto the sofa. We all laughed, all of us, adults and child conniving.
Wendy, for some reason, gives me an extra three or four seconds in our embrace. Usually, we have a production line, binary clamping, like having a label ("Friends Forever!") stamped and glued onto each other. Those extra couple of seconds, I make the most of, holding her and stroking her down from her shoulders, knowing I won't get as far as her waist before I'm called in, your time is up.
On Christmas Eve, my daughters turned eighteen. One of their cards read "Congratulations! You're eighteen. Now you can legally do what you've been doing since you were fifteen," but as much as I keep waiting for them to go off the rails, it hasn't happened.
There have been some cautious experiments with pot, and the youngest will have the odd tin of lager; middle daughter once brought home a sixth form boy from the Grammar School. There was some ceremony and I was warned not to say anything "too jokey". He told her afterwards that he enjoyed the muddle in Kirsty's house, and that he thought I was "cool". Meeting his precise, impeccably-mannered Dad as he came to pick his son up, I could imagine their house in the countryside, all spotless white walls and espadrilles at the door for visitors; two cars, both with stickers about green energy and cyclists.
In the afternoon Kirsty's boyfriend took them all out for afternoon tea. As neither Kitty nor I had finished our Christmas shopping, and the shops were going to close in a couple of hours, we thought the best plan was to call into the Sun for a couple of glasses of wine. Afterwards, I joined a small group of guilty-looking last-minute men in a jewellery shop.
Christmas Day, and no-one was up until 11am. Later I went round to Kitty's to see her and Wendy for a couple of drinks and to
get stoned swap presents. They gave me books by Margaret Drabble and Bukowski, and these two charming little knitted creatures I was cooing over at a craft fair in October. I gave Wendy an anthology of poems called "Out of Fashion," poems about being dressed, and undoing that state.
Back at Kirsty's, we started making Christmas dinner. I felt giddy, and lucky to be with her and the girls; all day I kept having those little moments of happiness which still you for a moment and where the light becomes brighter.
It's midday and Kim's asleep upstairs. She came over on Boxing Day and it's been easy, long, hours of talking; up until 9am the first night and half past three yesterday, sustained by a healthy and varied diet of things you can't buy in a supermarket. As we were talking about sex -- the conversation always ends up there -- I was getting quite turned on (as was she). "Kim, I'm going to have to sort myself out in a minute," I said. She nodded and gave a little shrug, which I took as my licence to add some actions to our words. After I'd come we looked at each other, and I laughed at now normal we were making it.
She's in a relationship now, with someone she met on one of those social occasions well-known for crackling with sexual desire -- an organised dog walk. She showed me his picture, which was testament to the admirable tolerance most women have when considering a man's looks. He's older than her, but dresses older still, like a cellared local government official. She, in Kitty's words, is "dazzlingly gorgeous", and was looking so yesterday afternoon in the pub, in a black minidress and black boots. I had immense difficulty in keeping my eyes off her tits, and was quite looking forward to getting back to mine, putting the coal fire in, then "sorting myself out" with her again.
This afternoon, we are going to attempt an hour down the pub, where my three favourites will be together for the first time. There's always a risk that one's friends won't get on with each other, but all three of them play such important roles in my life, that I would like to risk a couple of bottles of Prosecco on it.
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