Got up at 5am and got back home at 11pm, working at one of the various elections that are being held today. Trina drove me and all the paraphernalia there for 6.15 and picked me up again after the poll closed at 10pm and drove me to the Town Hall where everything has to be checked. I feel that hot head like sunburn that lack of sleep can cause.
We prepared for this important exercise in democracy sensibly last night, with Chablis, sherry, mdma and speed. It was a successful evening -- by which I mean it was sexless, and she didn't criticise me or start ragging on about what she sees as my alcoholism and my deprived childhood. I long since gave up arguing my case with her about any of her idées fixes, but it was a pleasure to be neither analysed nor lectured.
At around five o'clock a private number rang. I don't know why I answered it as I rarely answer numbers which aren't already in my phone; boredom maybe. It was someone from a GP's surgery offering me an interview for a medical receptionist job I'd forgotten I'd applied for. I'll have to find the cv I sent them to make sure I can remember the particular mixture of truths, half-lies and straightforward ones that I concocted for the application form.
Edit: just found it. My main referee is someone who doesn't exist who works for an imaginary company in a virtual office in Glasgow. All the enquiries to her will be diverted to me so I'll write my own reference. My children are a few years older than they are, and I need to warn Kitty that she's my second referee.
I also had an unnerving online video interview with a bookmakers, who rang ten days ago saying that I'd passed that and that they'd be in touch with a date for a face-to-face interview at the local branch. It's a palaver of a process for 7.20 an hour, but I do fancy it. The clientele are my people -- heavy drinkers, people who've given up, people secretly convinced they'll win the lottery, who have an honest camaraderie and unchanging habits which make them easy to know. I'm not doing it if it's all targets and selling though.
In the meantime, I've secured an occasional gig as a mystery shopper and I've got to go round some crappo DVD shop tomorrow morning. But it's ten minutes' work for a fiver and I get to keep the DVD they'll refund me for buying. Then Wendy's coming round and we'll take a funny fagarillo and a bottle of sherry up to the park. I wish I knew that we would end up laying about together, kissing, me toying with her dress hem. We won't though.
Wilma was up at the Magistrates' Court for shoplifting. I said I'd go with her. On Monday I had had to go down the court office to find the time of her appearance, as she'd lost the relevant letter.
She was anxious and tearful about it, although I wondered whether there was an element of a performance of distress in order to further the nihilistic future at which she aims: either death, or, preferably, to be looked after, to revert to a state of childhood with the State as a replacement kindly parent; both erasing her self, her agency.
The court building has recessed lights sunk into a ceiling that is half carpet tiles, half pebbledash paint. The Duty Solicitor was excellent and weaved a persuasive exculpatory story from a five-minute interview with her before she went in.
She received a conditional discharge for twelve months, with imaginary but enforceable "costs" of £145. We went to the pub and I got her a bottle of wine and her choice of a disgusting looking dinner of "ribs" glutinous, fleshy and shiny, Wetherspoons' artificial chips; the peas were the only thing that survived in something like a natural state from such a Fordist food production line.
I left her at 3ish and went home. I found out last night that she'd then gone and stole a bottle of wine, one of sherry, and some chicken before the shops shut.
Wendy texts. "Hiya petal, looking forward to our country walk. I'm thinking Enid Blyton only with cider and marijuana."
"Me too. If I be George, even though she was a girl -- the line's quite fine in 2016 -- will you be Fanny?"
We met up at the railway station, sandwiches in Tupperware, the clanking of our bottled refreshments.
We had sun and hail within ten minutes in Arnside. We were a bit off our trollies by this time. "It's psychedelic weather isn't it? It's like the beginnings of a dystopian novel," she said, and then went on to improvise its first few sentences.
We saw a huge tree with a massive root system. She told me about a poem sequence she'd started writing and abandoned, and now wants to take up again, about Morecambe Bay. One of its poems is based on a true story of a wedding party which sank beneath the sands -- bride, groom, guests, horse and carriage and all, all still there.
The hail came down for about ten minutes. "Right, I've had enough of this now," she said. I turned to look at her. Her gorgeous dishevelled dark brown hair was dotted with hailstones that looked like those little crystallised sugar cubes which are sprinkled over bun tin cakes. I thought first, a thought, then immediately afterwards, how cliched its expression was even in my head. The thought being, I've never seen you looking so beautiful. And then third, my shadow-self tapping me on the shoulder and saying "but you mean it!"
I told her the un-italicised bit and she looked at me and smiled. Everything was happening in instants; a joy sufficient to obliterate my sense of the lack of physical closeness between us.
"I do love you a little bit," I said, when we were back on the train, thawing.
Me, Wendy and the dog take a bottle of Prosecco into the sylvan edge of our city. There were no litter bins for a long time and I felt a bit self-conscious walking along with an empty bottle of Prosecco at midday, meeting all the other dog-walkers and their constant smiling efforts to maintain the bonhomie of their collective.
On Saturday me and Trina had planned to go to the house night I introduced her to a couple of years ago, but my punishment for the misdirected text in which I told Wendy that I loved her, was to have the offer of a lift and a hotel withdrawn.
I managed to get to St Annes on the train for nothing, then found a place to stay for 18 pounds. It was liberating not being with her, dancing and chatting with who I liked, and having conversations which push the friendship gently forward. Trina, meanwhile, in a pointless attempt to make me jealous, had arranged a date with a retired journalist. I offered to make the rescuing phone call if she needed it, so we agreed the code by which she could notify me.
At half past nine she texted to say that she didn't need rescuing, that he was "nice, but too nice." I keep my phone on but put it to silent and took to the dance floor.
I got in at about 3am. My host's BMW had had its back window put through. In St Annes, The Opal of the West, of all places.
Went through my phone before I went to bed.
2330: Let me down as usual. Luckily didn't need you. [A DJ] is playing. Probably not as good as St Annes but it's here.
0011: You are a total waste of space. If you want to come to Morecambe tomorrow [as we had arranged] you can make your own way there if you can be bothered. I'm really not bothered.
0024: You really are a complete bastard. Why say you'd be there for me tonight when you had no fucking intention of doing it. Grow up!!!
0036: It's half past midnight and you obviously didn't bother to check your phone as you promised. I'm going to sleep now and when you read this I have a message for you. Fuck off looby. I don't need people like you in my life to let me down and piss me off. Selfish, self obsessed bastard that you are. Fuck off.
0657: I rather over reacted last night to what was really something and nothing. I apologise for swearing at you and I hope you got home okay.
Further abject apologies followed through the morning. I didn't really want to miss our stay at the Midland Hotel in Morecambe, where rooms go up to over £200, so I told her that a couple of expensive cocktails would get her out of the mess.
We went to Morecambe, where, in a pub, I found an example of the altruism that we associate with cokeheads: someone had left a small line of coke on the top of the loo. I mixed it in with our bag of sparkledust, and got the credit card a-chopping. I gave the rest -- which was intended to last us both at least a couple of days -- to Trina. She came back from the loos saying how strong it was. No wonder. She'd done the entire lot.
I keep underestimating what a hopeless drinker she is, and on cue, after a bottle of white and two double Zubrowkas, I was informed that I am in denial about being an alcoholic and how I have been "damaged" by my childhood.
We got back to the Midland. It being Morecambe, even a £200 a night hotel doesn't get things quite right. The Prosecco is served in white wine glasses, not flutes, and at breakfast the fat-arsed staff stand with their polyester-clad buttocks inches away from the back of your head moaning about colleagues; canned music.
But it's a skilful restoration. They decided early on that a full-scale re-creation of a 30s hotel is both impossibly expensive and impractical, what with modern disabled legislation and fire and health and safety rules, so have preserved what they can and done the rest in a contemporary style. It's got this marvellous circular staircase which is a wonder of cantilevered engineering which must put an immense strain on the hidden steel skin of the hotel into which it is attached. It is made for silk dresses with trains.
We danced to the pianist in the foyer and shared a bottle of Prosecco with an entertainingly dodgy Glaswegian man. We got into our respective beds. She climbed into mine. "No, no Trina, I want to go to sleep." I got out and climbed into hers.
I slept well and woke up at 8am, to find she'd gone. She'd left a note thanking me for a "mostly" great time, and saying that she'd see me at wine club. I had a leisurely solo breakfast on the terrace, looking across Morecambe Bay, a gorgeous vista of greys and browns. Under the sands are dozens of skeletons of people and horses, drowned whilst trying to take the short cut to Furness at low tide.
I think Trina's going a bit mad. Looking after her demented mother is becoming such a burden for her that she overdoes it on the compensatory days that she spends with me.
Middle daughter, the actress, is, like me, uninterested in work she doesn't want to do or has to fake it in. I was on my my way home from the pub when she rang me and she wants to see me so that I can make up some bullshit on the phone to the restaurant owner about why she can't do her shift tomorrow on the waitressing job she's got.
I identify with that. I don't want to work. I've never wanted to. I just want to do what I like. I'm a drinker really, a professional drinker, and have a couple of friends who are handy to know for various pharmaceutical reasons, which means that everything I stick up my nose is free for me; and the value of the life that you lead as a result can't be measured in money.
The new lot of phet arrived last night and I'd give it a 6/10, not the 8 that I'm used to, but it still has the usual effect of making me talkative yet calm whilst out socially, then wanking on and off like a man possessed all night thinking about Wendy. And thank fuck, I managed not to text her at half past three in the morning, despite being hard-cocked and murmuring to myself and an imagined her. It's just a good job the difficulties of sexting on my phone makes me give up half way through.
Last night in the pub I met for the second time in my life this girl I met a year or so ago. She looks like a slut. She looks and speaks like a fucking dirty whore. She's got black hair. Twenty-eight. Her chavvy boyfriend was there, jealous at me and her chatting so well. He went on about getting us some coke -- a drug in which I have very little interest -- for 65 a gram. That's not realistic. It's 95, or 110 if you want to make a profit, but I don't want to get involved in coke. It makes stupid men too manly. I gave him my card and told him to ring me to discuss it and of course, he hasn't rung me. Lancaster wannabe drug dealers -- we have an endless stock of them here, all as thick as fuck.
I was talking to Slutgirl about my night at the casino in Manchester after the house music night last March and how much I enjoyed it, and she produced a membership card for the same casino and told me of a night she'd had there. Her borderline violent boyf went to the toilet. With the relief of him gone, we talked about the other time me and her had met. "I wish I'd gone home with you that night. I've done half of Lancaster, so I might as well have done you."
I wanted to reach over the table to snog her. Sometimes, you don't want to be special, you just want to be one amongst many, one of the half of Lancaster.
I told Kim about my housing situation. A couple of days later she sends me an email in which she suggested that I move in with her, for the extra costs it would incur, "maybe about £30 a week." It's difficult for an attractive, chatty woman like her to go out on her own "and you could help me with this."
Later, through a drunken phone call from me, we jointly get the better of that idea. I don't want to live so far from my children. I'd be living on the train, with all the expense that involves. And I didn't say it, but I've had enough of being the social worker.
Instead, we have planned a weekend at the Racing Commentator's flat in Leeds for next month. I'm looking forward to it. Don Paterson wrote (from memory, can't be bothered to gargle) "Women have taught me everything I know, but men have often taken me aside and told me things." Racing Commentator hesitates to tell me anything -- not because he's withholding valuable technical information -- but because he has a type of grace that I attribute to true intelligence.
I'm glad I got away with stealing the two bottles of cava from Marks and Sparks in The Strand the other day but shoplifting isn't a reliable business model. I don't want to do what everyone suggests to me -- proofreading for students -- partly because I think that people at a university like Lancaster ("world-leading", like all the others), should know how to write in English, but also because it's fucking boring work with no reward beyond the financial.
I was saying something similar the other week to Vic, who said that the bloke in the corner shop near him is looking for someone to do a few hours. I rang him and he asked if I could come round in twenty minutes. The Sri Lankan franchisee unnerved me with long pauses between questions to which I could give no more elaborate answers than that which I produced, while he stared at me; at my face.
He took me behind the counter to show me how modern tills work. I was then asked if I could come back the next day at four for my first shift. I was preparing to leave his stiflingly hot shop, when he said "So, what sort of wages are you expecting?" "Well, I suppose, the minimum wage. £7.20 an hour for someone my age." "Well, we pay £5, cash in hand."
I said that there would be no advantage to me working cash in hand for that amount, thanked him for his time, and said that I hoped that he will find some
desperate Vietnamese person who is more suitable.
In a disinhibited moment, I text Wendy. "I love you Wendy. I love you in every sense of that word." With the improved fine motor control that comes from a few pints and a Lebanese cigarillo, I sent it to Wendy, Cilla my old Hungarian lodger, and Trina.
Wendy was easy to sort out. 6am next morning, awakening with the start of anxious worry that is the privilege of the heavy drinker, I texted Wendy seul. "I'm sorry Wendy. Please ignore last night. A friend and I hit the wacky baccy a bit and it went to my head. I value our friendship very much, like I know you do too. I apologise, and if we can just pretend I never said anything. See you soon! x
"No worries petal. You're in enough trouble I expect?"
We got into a conversation in which she asked if I could nip to the chemist for her. I replied "Hello, Dr Surname here. Yes, the prescription charge you guessed at is correct. However, I will have to examine your breasts first."
Trina was more difficult, an emailed shit storm, but like most depressions, you just have to wait for the worst of them to drift off towards Novoya Zemlya and, in words of the Shipping Forecast, "lose its identity".
As important as the drama with Trina is, it's the first day of the County Championship today and we are skittling out Nottinghamshire, 214 for 7 at tea, and I've made some forced jokes to her relating to fielding positions, to temper the heat. Alles klar.
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