A line under the matter

Permalink Wed 29th October 2014

Trina drove my Mum back to Middlesbrough and collected me from there. Around Tebay we got a text from Chris wondering if we were out, and we had a testy couple of hours down the pub. It was easy to predict what would happen once the social brake of having Chris there was released. Chris is the wrong person for Trina to talk to about sex. Obliquely referring to the content of my steamy letter to Donna that she read the other day, she said "Yes but you just feel treated like a prostitute." "Oh yes please," replied Chris. Trina went to the loo and Chris said "She loves you." "Well, I can't help that."

Back at mine, we went searching again for something I'd dearly like to find. I deliberately set Trina to have a look through the kitchen shelves, on which is a jumble of letters, cards and paraphernalia.

It worked. She came up to my room waving a postcard Donna sent me from Paris, which she'd made from a picture of herself. "I know why," she said, about to lose control. "She looks like Kirsty. That's why -- she looks like Kirsty." I didn't look round, didn't look at the flapping picture of Donna. "Could you put that postcard back where it came from please?"

I heard her close the front door. An hour later, she sent a series of texts, one of which said "You are a cold-hearted, selfish perv." "I agree with your assessment of me. When you're sober let me know what we're going to do."

The following day she emailed saying that she'd still like to go dancing "as long as you haven't found anyone else by then." I replied saying that I was very pleased she'd said that and that I look forward to our Winter programme. As long as I manage her, she's fine.

Can't see us getting much of a swerve on at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, but we're also booked into a full afternoon in which the Arditti String Quartet play a demanding programme of the complete string quartets of James Dillon, with a two hour break in the middle in which I'm going to have a couple in one of the finest cities for real ale in the north. At the end, I want to feel fucked, by intense chamber music.

I'm going over the day before for a concert entitled EEEEE, which stands for Early English Experimentalism (played by the) Edges Ensemble. I am going to enter into the spirit of things by taking some e shortly before it starts.

When I got back from Middlesbrough there was a letter from the solicitors.


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Permalink Sun 26th October 2014

My Dad recognised me straight away, but he's not coherent much of the time. He's on a lot of drugs and said he remembers Kirsty's fingers as being "very jerky, with those twelve-inch nails." He said that a cat got into the ward yesterday and was wandering about.

He started fiddling with his catheter and I had to say "that's probably alright as it is, Dad." He's already pulled out one cannula. I think he enjoyed me and Sam visiting though, listening to the chat between ourselves, because much of the time he can't respond. I collected a capitalised leaflet, "What To Do When You Think Someone Is Dying", on my way out.

At my sister's, I am relieved to be in the kitchen to avoid the cajoling and frazzled story reading of bedtime. I made us a chilli for dinner and a less successful tortilla (Spanish omelette) for tea. I managed to get away at 9.30 tonight to the newish Wethers. In the safety of his car, Sam expressed his disenchantment with it all, how he didn't realise how much like hard work it would be, and a weakly encrypted irritation with his girlfriend.

The Middlesbrough people I've met are accepting and friendly and easy to talk to. The man over there was telling me he's starting a new job on Monday, in a bookie's. I said I'd always fancied working in a bookies, since the smoking ban anyway. Middlesbrough has had one of these pointless EU-funded makeovers in which Poundland gets a new pavement and there are metalled signs to the last remaining public institutions, one of which is that reliable indication that a town is absolutely fucked -- a gallery of modern art.

Last night I got away to have a stopover with Kim. She'd been on an unsucessful date with a man whose moniker is Dreamweaver. "I suppose you find me a bit boring," he correctly suggested, at the end of their first and last date. She was wearing a grey thigh-length minidress under a black zip-up jacket; black tights, and little boots with a zip up the side and velcro straps across the top. "I can't even give it away on a plate," she said. I love it when she crosses her legs, forcing her dress to take the angled shorter route across her thighs.

I gabbled a bit to her about Donna, before she said we were going somewhere else. She took my hand and we left the pub out of the back way and down a pitch black steep-stepped alley, to this unmarked door to a flat above a shop. You had to ring to be let in. There was a makeshift bar in the front room and DJs in the back. We danced and I had a trophy wife feeling. It was that moneyed but well-intentioned arthouse crowd, bearded and bobbed -- but good, at least they're doing something with it. They've refused all funding and just run it from the proceeds of the bar.

Back at hers we danced some more and then slept chastely together. I noticed that often, when I was getting into that lovely space -- formless, optimistic -- of dance music, that she would snap me back down out of that, to her life, to add more details to her failed date. I don't want to speak when I'm dancing.

Edit The title is simply a spelling mistake, nothing cryptic.

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Permalink Thu 23rd October 2014

I'm in Middlesbrough for a few days while my Mum is in Lancaster having a rest from my Dad. I was to be "looking after" him, which conjured up blanching images of flannels and genitalia, but I have had the jammiest stroke of luck.

Instead of having to endure his company twenty-four hours a day, my duties are now much abbreviated, as he is hospitalised in The Biffa Bacon General Hospital, having thankfully banged his head the other day, compounding his malingering and self-pitying attitude towards a broken leg. All I have to do then, is a couple of hours of hospital visiting a day. My Mum has warned me that he might not know who I am. One day he saw three goats at the end of his bed, and more recently was pleased to find himself on holiday in Margate.

I had my "voluntary" interview with the police yesterday. No matter how prepared you think you are, and how many times you've rehearsed your answers and their possible subversion, it's exacting being in a tiny, airless room with a copper, your solicitor, a tape recorder, and your guilt. My solicitor told me that they had very little on me and that Plod would be going on a fishing expedition, so in the words of the hectoring old ad, just say no.

An envelope destined for a former lodger of mine was intercepted at Gatwick. The airport's drug detection machines identified the "substance" as methamphetamine, and so the police came looking for a meth lab which might have been hidden between the Eurovision Song Contest CDs and the poetry of W N Herbert.

There was an air of wanting to get it over and done with. "No," I laughed with unwonted nervousness, "meth is one thing I've never tried." As soon as that was out I realised its implication that I'd tried other drugs, having previously answered "no" to the question "Have you ever been a drug user, Mr Looby?"

He clicked the tape recorder to a stop, and said "I'm not sending this file up. It won't go any further as there's insufficient evidence." I asked about getting the money back for the broken down door and having to change the locks. They said that as they'd been round four times to try to enter the house peaceably -- and we'd all been out -- they had been "left with no option" but to break in, so I'd be unlikely to get my money back. I still think that's wrong.

Outside, the light is all turned up. I am a little disappointed at the intensity of my elation, but taken by surprise at how wobbly my legs are. I am reminded of Kirsty's Dad, walking down The Strand after being released from the Old Bailey, quiet for some safe yards, before saying to his daughter, "That's a relief. Because I did it."

I texted Erica, Kim and Trina. Trina came down for a drink, as did fortuitously, Seth, a friend of mine I've been seeing quite a bit of lately. We agree not to talk about his interest in Healing With Coloured Torches and other middle class quackery, but we get on well and I like his attitude to money. He went off to pawn a couple of gold sovereigns, waving away my offer of a tenner loan.

Then Trina started to turn my afternoon into hers. "I've read that letter you sent to Donna," referring to a long letter I wrote -- but never sent -- whilst I was on holiday with Kirsty and the girls in Dieppe, a fragment of which I posted here. From friendly touristic beginnings it firms up into sex -- our sex, mine and hers sex, not anyone else's.

"So while I've been locked into an interview room at the police station, you've been riffling through my private letters?"

"No, no, I was was looking for something else." "Yes, and then you found the letter to Donna and read it all?"

I was determined not to let her spoil my afternoon, but told her that she had prodigiously overstepped the mark. She bulldozed on, more interested in discussing its content than apologising. "I don't know how you put up with me for two years; I must have seemed very tame." And then later, trying to sound jocular, she said "Men are strange. You're all pervs."

Thrown into my second involuntary quizzing of the day, I simply refused to answer and shook my head. Trina sees sex as either comical or dirty. Unable to let the subject go, but receiving no further response from me, she stood up with the drink in her eyes and announced her intention to have a lie down at mine -- something to which me and Seth assented without demur.

Back to Middlesbrough. I sit down with a discount ale, no obligations until about 7ish this evening. Opposite me, an elderly foursome, spending their pensions and house inflation. To my surprise, the letter's intended recipient, the girl with the filthiest name on my phone, texts me.

Donna is in "an important meeting" and is sending me secret texts. I am trying to keep my squirming from interfering with anyone's Two Meals for 7.19. I apologise by text to Donna for taking the seat next to her and accidentally allowing my fingers to stroke slowly up her skirt and pulling it up asymmetrically across her thighs so that my fingertips can rest on her stocking tops.

Donna, Donna, Donna. My slut, my always-want-you girl, my compliant, dressing-up, high-heeled, open-legged, stairs sex, cunt. I thought this was all over? I don't think anyone has ever turned me on like this.

"Oh dear, so now you've told me my imaginings are correct. I fancy you so fucking much Donna. I'll give you a ring when I'm calmer. But just to say... I LONG to fuck you."

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Permalink Wed 15th October 2014

Trina sent me a couple of emails and texts. It's no exaggeration to describe the most desperate one as "pleading" for one more chance.

I'm very sorry Trina but it's too much like work now. You'd be better off finding someone who can give you the stability and happiness you deserve. This cycle of breaking up and patching it up again will just go and on forever, so I think it's time we were brave enough to call an end to it.

I have no interest in making mine or someone else's life difficult and complicated, by outweighing the good times with hour upon hour of endless arguments and recriminations and pointless, circular, analysis and head-splittingly Godawful "discussion". Just at the moment I am only interested in simple, carefree, straightforward friendship, such as that I have with Kitty or Kim.

That's not quite true. I'd like friendship like Kim's and sex like Donna's.

'm sorry I can't offer you anything else, but that's all I have to offer anyone. If we do resume going out together as friends I don't want to mislead you into thinking that it might develop into something more. I have had it with "relationships" for the time being.

A couple of days later she was smiling hard by text again, hoping that we this can be the start of "a lovely new friendship."

I had told Trina I'd be in Manchester for this concert. She suggested we could meet up in the afternoon for a drink, under this new order. We met in the Lass O'Gowrie, a pub that always stops short of the greatness it could attain. Chilly, the radiators stone cold; intrusive Disco-Soul hits to pester you aurally, and flashing large screens of Ebola and unrealised terrorism to irritate you visually. Even looking outside didn't help: the sad sight of the clean-lined 70s BBC building razed to a crammed car park.

The conversation went well enough, in that way when things have changed and one is on one's best behaviour. We went somewhere else to warm up try to get a pint for less than three pounds. "Where are you taking me? Wetherspoons, in central Manchester? Oooh, it'll be rough, it'll be rough." Inside of course, the pub had the late afternoon stuffed fug of relieved workers untieing themselves, and all-day drinkers repeat-dosing.

She left at about half past six. I wrote a postcard to Kim, and meandered my way in a route I misremembered, to the concert venue, another chilly location. The vicar came on with a mic that spluttered like a broken internet connection, doing those jolly little apologies that the Church of England is reduced to nowadays.

The outstanding players performed a couple of noodlingly inconsequential pieces, but also one I liked a great deal, the Fitch, with its detunings for the cello, and a score that mixes tablature with conventional notation. I had an interesting chat with its composer afterwards, who looks like he considered becoming a tramp as a career at one point before turning into a fine composer instead. His piece was commissioned as a companion piece for a work by Brian Ferneyhough. I said I was at a conference on Ferneyhough about eighteen months ago. "Yes, I gave a paper there -- on his early music." "Small world," I clichéd.

"It's marvellous," he said. "So many composers here!" We huddled and smiled and stamped about, doing an enjoyable educated bonhomie, a subculture polishing itself in its own mirror.

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Up early

Permalink Fri 10th October 2014

After a period in exile in a part of Lancashire where parents smoke their children to school whilst wearing onesies, Kitty has managed to secure a job in Lancaster, and it was her housewarming the other night. It was one of cultured abandon in which we drank nothing but champagne cocktails. Two of the guests were excellent musicians. My heart sinks when I see a man carrying a guitar into a party, but Brendan can really play.

Wendy was there, attracting those glances that men are inept at hiding. She's got a sexy, reckless air about her, with her wayward, fearless conversation, and her secondhand dresses; more than one of us blokes were thinking the same thing.

Trina is coping well with the new description ("friends"), despite afternoons like last Wednesday. We went out and she drank too much (to my relief, stopping before her tipping point). Back home, she sat at the kitchen table while I busied myself with making tea, chopping and frying with what I hoped would be an infectious alacrity, but I could hear sibilant sniffing and sighing behind me.

"You alright?" I asked, knowing perfectly well what was the matter. "I've done this -- look what I've done," she said, trying to smile. "No, you haven't at all. I tell you what you can do though -- those need to be diced, about so big." I kissed her and she said she was silly and so on. If we can just get through this, things will be fine, I thought. She offered to get the last bus, but I said that there was no need for that, and being naked in bed together went with more ease than I'd expected, partly because she went quickly off, pissed -- leaving me to thoughts of Donna.

Next morning I had to get up early as Kirsty and boyf were off to France for a few days and so I've got the children all this week. Once she can bear it I'll raise the issue of why, if we're friends, I'm not allowed on dating sites. I got myself swiftly out of bed. No fucking discussions. No fucking; no discussions.

My solicitor rang the other day. He said that he thinks there isn't that much evidence to pursue even a possession charge. He explained that the procedure, when this interview finally takes place -- the alleged offence, of Untaxed Sensual Enjoyment, took place in June -- will be that the police will have to make a full disclosure of their evidence and then the solicitor and me will have a private discussion about how to go about the subsequent interview. I want it over and done with, partly so that I can tell you the full story.

It's our local music festival this weekend. In its sixth year now, the festival is a Ritalin substitute for its organiser. Old Uni Pal from Ilkley is coming over, and I am going to drag him out to see Özlem Bulut. What a beautiful voice she's got.


Wagon and Horses, 9pm, in case it's tempting anyone local. Free, no charge.

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