Worse case

Permalink Thu 18th September 2014

From: Polly
To: looby
25th August, 23:06

Yes I'd like to meet u asap. Worse case we mght not fancy each other! Can u make this Wed in manc? I have an appt in Leeds which finishes at 4pm. Or how about Ilkley?

We met in the best pub in Ilkley. She was skinny, pretty, four years younger than me; her hair, somewhere between light brown and dark blonde dissolutely arranged around her face. She is into partying and all that entails. A thin square-necked printed dress to just above her knee, jeans, and trainers. My intuition, after a few minutes' chat, is that I'm too old in my mind for her, too thinking.

We walked along and she talked about the damage done by the imported shrubs that feature just below the old bridge at Ilkley; they did smell unpleasant. My boss at work rang, and I talked in front of her for a couple of minutes about the problems with the fax machine and the move to the new premises, pleased to be normal.

To my relief she soon suggested turning back to the pub. I was glad she didn't suggest pressing on to Owler Park and down to the golf club. I enjoy country walks which extend across the curlew-encircled plain of the car park and into the pub.

I didn't plan on eating anything, but she suggested we did and to split the bill 50/50. Yes, but I might not have 50. The food was first class, some of the best pub food I've had for a long time. I had scallops (the shellfish, not the fried potatoes which is what I immediately think "scallops" are), which came dressed in a sort of thick ratatouille-ish sauce and a parmesan crumb crust. Our waiter looked like he'd just got back from spending Daddy's money on a grammar school skiing trip to Switzerland. He remembered what we were drinking--bumping up the bill.

She put her hands on the table. "Right," she said, "hands on the table time. Yes, my hands are on the table! Erm...I don't feel any sexual attraction to you and..." I drifted, the age-old experience of watching oneself from a distance whilst having to delegate motor functions to a less impaired region of the brain. I wanted, more than anything at that moment, to keep control of myself. I sat there on automatic, nodding understandingly, hearing nothing except the commands from my other-self. "Be like Stephen in The Mill On The Floss. You must do that now. Do it, now! Go back to her, and behave like Stephen!"

Obviously that's the Stephen when he's suffocating any signs of his passion for Maggie in the drawing room in front of his fiancée Lucy, not the wild Stephen who recklessly rows her too far down the river after his shocking kisses on her arm.

I turned back to manual control and we managed a good coda. I told her that it's good that one can be this honest ab initio nowadays and told her how much I liked her hair. We stood up and did a neutral, desexualised kiss, and she went off to the station to get the train back to Leeds.

From: looby
To: Polly
27th August, 23:16

Thanks for a nice night Polly even if it didn't end up where I think we were both hoping. I'm not really looking for any more female friends and I don't want to get into yet another friend thing where I feel like a gay confidente. But the champagne was nice! All the best

From: Polly
To: looby
27th August, 23:27

Ahh I'm sorry to too. I had hoped for a sexual connection with you. I imagine it would be v playful. And in the past I may have persisted and hoped it would develop and its likely to get messy for both of us. I'm glad I checked it out with u. I felt very seen and listened to. Even if u were only paying attention to the way my hair falls! You're interesting and lively company. U I guess we won't make pans to meet given this disparity of feeling. Do stay in touch if u want and swap stories of our love and party lives. Xx

I went to the nearest approach to a rough pub that one can find in Ilkley, the Midland Hotel, opposite the railway station, and fell in with this group of blokes who were playing what seemed a very complicated game of dominoes. They were sat in the only decent place to sit in The Midland, in the large bay window and I wasn't sure whether it was a little intrusive, but at that point, kneading my rejection, I wanted to talk with someone uninvolved in it all.

"That seems a very complicated game of dominoes," I said, and immediately I was taken under their wing with a long explanation of their game and its rules. I relaxed into my role as the naïf, the curious offcomer. "You have to watch him," one of them said. "I just put my best one down but he can remember what you've put down and work out what's in your hand. He plays in the league."

I was staying at my old Uni pal's house, but he rang to say they would be late at his father-on-law's birthday do. I asked the domino chaps where Wetherspoons is. One of them started to explain it, then tailed off, took my arm and said "No, here, here, I'll take you there," and walked me round. "Have a good night then lad." It was crap. False eyelashes, Hollister T-shirts. I wished I'd stayed in the Midland.

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My 24-hour grlfriend

Permalink Sun 14th September 2014

Donna had been worryingly quiet for a few days, but at last, she sent a lovely, heart- and cock-melting email.

She explained that while it's been "fabulous", we should bear in mind that the original plan, settled upon when we decided to meet in Glasgow for the first time, was that she would be a 24-hour girlfriend. Obviously that was before I realised how I could gaze stiff-cocked at her, combing her body with my eyes, and the vivid recall of the things she said, my pleasure in her fabrics against her skin, the way we had this quickly understood power balance, the exciting sex and the constant wanking over her when she wasn't around.

We have exceeded twenty-four hours by a long way, but she -- like me -- wants someone whom she can see often, and can call in without lots of planning and expense. She thanked me for making her feel "like the sexiest creature alive" and said lots of other things in an email which, although I know will disappear in one of those frequent erasing calamities of the digital age, is something that in a previous time I'd have tied up with ribbon and kept in a shoebox. In my phone, she is not "Donna", but a sluttish nickname.

She rang at the time she said she would. We said a twenty-five minute end. For someone who has to lie all the time in order to maintain the life I want, it's paradise to be able to say lovely, truthful things to a woman who, were she nearer, I would love to fuck, cook for, dance with, chat with, go out with her friends, buy clothes to put her in and undress her, and fuck, and fuck... often.


Me and Trina went over to Middlesbrough for the day on Monday to see my folks. I'm looking after my Dad for a week next month while my poor put-upon Mum has a carefree week in Lancaster with her grandchildren and Kirsty, away from my Dad's endless self-pity and a death-wish I would only be too happy to indulge.

It was partly for my briefing about what's involved, how much help he needs with going to the toilet, how to do his insulin injection, and so on, and partly because I calculated that if I went up now I can avoid seeing them at Christmas.

My sister's boyfriend was there and we got talking, with a slight edge of that male competition in conversation and the restriction of the topics to "objective" ones. We were talking about food and cooking. I told them I'd be bringing all my own ingredients, knives, and the flour with which to make bread. It was clearly worrying my Dad, in case he'd have to eat something alien and repulsive, like a boiled potato.

"I like plain food, very plain food," said my Dad. I'm happy to heat up his Asda spinal cord and toenail pies that he eats with a side of white shop-bought bread, spread with "spread", but I said that I'll make two meals every night.

My mother was poorly and has got bronchitis. It would be a brutally unfair injustice if she went first. My Dad would follow soon therafter, but my mother deserves several years of life -- preferably in her beloved home town Lewes -- happy and unburdened and uncriticised.

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What is the purpose of your journey?

Permalink Fri 5th September 2014

One of the pasty-faced anoraked band of believers that are to be found in Lancaster of a Saturday gave me one of their little booklets the other day. I suppose my dress and demeanour suggests that I'm convertible, so they always give me the latest cartoons.

As I mentioned last time, my uncle died recently, so I had to get to Lewes, where my mum's family are from. I spent hours trying to get the fare down from the £300 it offered me on the National Rail website, before a much fuckier and drinkier option suggested itself. Donna lives near Milton Keynes, which is on a line between Lancaster and Lewes, and after some emails I managed to arrange to stay with her for two nights.

Outside Milton Keynes station, there were two beggars sociably drunk, glad that it was warm, probably. As I gave them a fiver, I said "I'm giving you this on condition that you spend it on drink." "Have you had a good journey?" "The best bit of it is this part," I said, kissing her open-mouthed.

After dinner and some chat, I went over to kiss her. "No, not yet," she said. "Wait there." She reappeared in some gorgeous shimmery grey satiny underwear and stockings. "Fancy a change of scenery?" she said, after a while, and turned onto her hands and kness, showing me her, presented with the curving black lines of her hold-ups and the memories of her psychedelically powerful texts a day or two ago about "control" (i.e., her relinquishing of it). I find her sexually exciting, a state which is enhanced by the right amount of emotional and geographical remoteness.

We can't meet up for a few weeks now, and I am wanking myself so much thinking about her, that this morning I can feel a stomach ache with the tension of it.


Next day she drove me to my brother's, from whence were going to Lewes. It was the first time I'd seen my Dad since he broke his femur about six months ago. He can hardly move, taking tiny, slippered steps everywhere. He accepts everything that is done for him only with resentment. After breakfast my Mum was giving him his insulin injections. He turned to me and said "Left up to me I wouldn't bother with it." Later, I told my sister this and she said "Well, die then."

At the funeral, my mother was delighted to see her relatives again. My Dad, shuffling for about twenty minutes on the same number of yards to the toilet, turned round at one point and snapped at her "Never mind other people -- think about me!"

After another inching struggle to get him to the wake in the upstairs room in the pub, he was delicately shunned by my Mum's family, who offered the merest polite forumulas before rejoining their own. I sat with him and fetched him the endless tea that he drinks. He said that he didn't like the food, the caterers having provided a challenging menu of egg and cress sandwiches, roast chicken legs, and mini pizzas.

It was an event of surprising brevity. I knew my uncle hardly at all, but he was popular with his family and was remembered affectionately. But no sooner had I finished my second pint (the first one hardly touched the sides) than people started standing up and doing the farewell rounds.

We got back to my brother's, where we were all staying. Mum and Dad go to bed about nine o'clock, and it was heaven to hear my hosts suggest that I could take a stroll out for an hour and perhaps call in for a pint if I liked. All my family are teetotal and I think are a little frightened of pubs.

In the pub garden, there was a serendipitous accident with a misdirected text. Intended for Kim, I told Donna "Just had a lovely half hour on the phone to Donna. Even just talking to her turns me on. Classic situation, high-powered job by day but wants to be ordered about in sex. For me it's the opposite, so we just click. I can't fucking wait to see her again."

I realised my mistake. "Well there you go Donna, at least you know how I talk about you to my best friend." I've been somewhat evasive about it all to Trina. I've told her I stayed at her house, but thought it kind to omit some details. She sent me an email today saying she loves me.

Next day my brother said he could drive me as far as Sheffield. I settled down in my favourite pub with Isabelle and a pint of stout.


Me and Kirsty and the girls went to Dieppe on holiday. It was done on a budget, and we took a ferry from Newhaven which arrived at Dieppe at 3am. We tried, but had very little sleep on the corridors of the ferry. They let you sleep in the terminal at Dieppe until 6am, and then, rucksacks on our backs and bags for life in our hands, we walked to the gare, which we imagined our best bet for somewhere to have something to eat. The station was empty except for a few drunks. The girls slumped back to sleep as I went out to scout for a cafe which according to Trap Incisor was open at 6am.

We strapped the girls back into their rucksacks and walked them another fifteen minutes to the cafe. Where there was nothing at all to eat. We sat there till about 9, then got two taxis, at 16 Euros each, to the campsite, where we slumped in the bar over ineffective coffee as the morning aquafit classes started in the adjoining pool, to a soundtrack of Europop.

At half past one, almost delerious with lack of sleep and hunger, I went in to the campsite reception and shop, where there was nothing but baguettes. I bought two. The gorgeous receptionist--natural black straightened hair, scooped-necked black T-shirt--to my relief, said we could have our caravan a bit earlier than our official check-in time, in an hour's time. We sat on the grass outside, ravenous, and ate the bread and drank some bottled water. People stared at us.

For the rest of the holiday, it mainly rained. We discovered a dial-a-ride bus service that could get us into Dieppe, otherwise it was an energetic thity-five-minute bike ride that only me and Fiona could manage.

There was an open-air gallery, which turned out to be an alley onto which people has posted their art; it was down by the docks, and to get there, we were directed by a burly shipyard worker. There was an exhibition about the history of skateboarding in Dieppe, and a more conventional one in the Maison des Avocats.

In the hypermarket, we found the largest pack of loo roll I've ever seen.

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Fugitive

Permalink Fri 15th August 2014

I managed to postpone the "voluntary" interview with Plod. It was supposed to be this Wednesday, but I was anxious not to get arrested before me and Kirsty and the girls set sail for Brittany this morning.

When I get back I'll tell you more about my uncle's cremation and the shortest wake I've ever been to. The funeral was at 2.30, we spend the usual twenty minutes or so getting to the pub, then everyone left at 5.00! Most of them are teetotal, and this demonstrates the baleful consequences of giving up the drink.

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The meth lab is discovered

Permalink Wed 6th August 2014

I have been living in interesting times, in the Chinese sense. There is much that would not be judicious to reveal in public, but I will condense that which can be shared into what I hope is a narrative of untiring length. A further delay in posting this has been caused by my having to reinstall the operating system after over-reaching myself in trying to set up LUKS on my entire hard drive, thinking I was technically competent to avoid the dangers of using it on my OS, explicitly described on the project's website.

I should also point out that the second section of the post is NSFW.


One day last month, Teaching Practice Friend asked if she could call round at 8.30am, as her mother was going to be spending a few hours in hospital. Her knock seemed very loud for a lissom girl in her forties. I opened the door to a surreal scene of two plain clothes CID officers, and Teaching Practice Friend holding a budgie in a cage in one hand, with two dachshunds on the lead in the other.

With admirable presence of mind, Teaching Practice Friend suggested she takes the dogs for a walk. Plod came in asked me about a former housemate, Bela. There wasn't much I could say, as the last I heard she had abandoned her MA and had left to find herself in Thailand. "Lots of travel books, Mr Looby," one of them remarked. "Do you go abroad often?" They rang through on their radio to do a "body check" -- a name I'd not heard before for checking up on one's criminal background. It came back clear.

Running out of ideas, they were eventually forced to reveal their hand. They had intercepted "a very nasty substance" in the post. Opinions may vary as to how nasty said item is. They asked me for a phone number in order to keep in touch. Unthinkingly, I gave them my mobile number and immediately regretted doing so. Absurdly, I thought of how Vladimir Putin would have been trained in the KGB never to reveal such information.

My heart was pounding violently and it was only with the utmost effort that I was able to maintain a calm appearance during the conversation. They left, inconclusively, thanking me for my time. Teaching Practice Friend returned, and my mind swam in distraction and worry, and I was hardly taking in a word of her conversation.

A week or so later me and Trina set sail from Portsmouth for a week's holiday in St Malo. Trina was most anxious throughout the lead-up to the trip, convinced that a crack team of Interpol's drugs squad would see my pre-booked holiday as evidence of the guilt of a fugitive.

A couple of days into the holiday, I was sitting alone in a bar when a text came through. "Sorry to bother you while you're on holiday," said my neighbour, "but something strange has happened at your house." They said that there was a padlock and clasp hanging loose from the door, together with a notice from the police. I arranged for a locksmith to go round and change the locks. I did nothing to disabuse my neighbours of their misapprehension that there had been a burglary; and I did my best to banish the incident from my mind for the remainder of our holiday.

When I arrived home I expected the house to be in complete disarray after my unwelcome visitors. It was hardly touched at all. Nothing in my room had been moved. I found out that the new lodger had had to go down to the police station at 5am when she got back from work, to get the padlock taken off. Oddly, the only thing they confiscated was Tom's computer, which will be the most boring hard drive they'll have examined this century. At least mine has some pretty pictures on it.

The police had left behind a copy of the Search Warrant, which gave them authority to look for "methamphetamine and items related to the production of methamphetamine." Now, whilst my chemical romance has taken on various flavours over the past thirty-odd years, methamphetamine is pharmacopeia incognita to me. I learned that while I had been in France, an actual meth farm had been discovered round the corner from where Kirsty lives, in the heart of Lancaster's macrame belt. The next day, there was a comical coincidence. The police had delivered, to every household in Lancaster, a leaflet containing a scratch and sniff card, to enable those who have led a somewhat sheltered upbringing to recognise the smell of cannabis.

Nothing happened for a month, then yesterday I received a call from the police inviting me for a "voluntary interview", which will take place later this week or early next, but only after I've spoken to my solicitor. The old advice, that there are two people to whom you should never lie--your doctor, and your solicitor--is good counsel.


In other news, Kim came over and we had another of our paradaisical three day sessions of sherry, no drugs at all--of course not, because I detest all drugs--fish and chips and saucy postcards in Morecambe, and that special closeness that comes from sleeping in the same bed as a woman you love in a friendish sense. Her lovely, strokable, unkempt, dark-blonde hair melding into the sand as we slept off a bottle of sherry on the beach. I thought she was taking a bit long in the loos neat the Clock Tower, and I got a text "Just putting on me bikini." She'd found it earlier in B&M Bargains for a fiver.

Trina... that will have to wait for another time, but it's unravelled beyond the point of rescue. She described me, in an email, as "selfish, shallow, immoral and disrespectful but you are also great company and a good laugh," which is pretty accurate.

Donna paid for me to go to see her in Milton Keynes. She cooked a lovely meal, plied me with Prosecco, and then we had fabulous sex. She dressed up in black hold-ups, red fuck-me high heels, and this mesmerising black bra. My cock was rigid; I felt doubly liberated with sexual desire and the lack of worry about getting it up. I said "Right, I think it's time I put my cock in your mouth so that you can suck it," she replied "Any particular way?" which made me tense with delight at the precisely expressed miracle of submissiveness. We got detained on the stairs; and she showed me a new trick which sent me into an agony of pleasure and pure desire. Next night, we went to a pub in Tring and got pissed with her friends (everyone was way over the limit driving back). They were excellent company, all working in the legal side of pharmaceuticals. One of them said she goes "slug dancing", which means she gets pissed and goes out at night dancing around her garden stomping on all the slugs.

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looby, n.; pl. loobies. A lout; an awkward, stupid, clownish person


M / 50 / Lancaster ("the Brighton of the North").

"Looby is a left-wing intellectual who is obsessed with a) women's clothes and b) tits." -- Joy of Bex.

WLTM literate woman, 35-63. Must have nice tits, a PhD, and an mdma factory in the shed, although the first on its own will do in the short term.


There are plenty of bastards who drink moderately. Of course, I don't consider them to be people. They are not our comrades.
Sergei Korovin, quoted in Pavel Krusanov, The Blue Book of the Alcoholic

I am here to change my life. I am here to force myself to change my life.
Chinese man I met during Freshers Week at Lancaster University, 2008

The more democratised art becomes, the more we recognise in it our own mediocrity.
James Meek

I hate the iPod; I hate the idea that music is such a personal thing that you can just stick some earplugs in your ears and have an experience with music. Music is a social phenomenon, and it’s about sharing with each other a certain oral tradition, ultimately.
Jeremy Wagner

La vie poetique has its pleasures, and readings--ideally a long way from home--are one of them. I can pretend to be George Szirtes.
George Szirtes

One good thing about being a Marxist is that you don't have to pretend to like work.
Terry Eagleton, What Is A Novel?, Lancaster University, 1 Feb 2010

The working man is a fucking loser.
Mick, The Golden Lion, Lancaster, 21 Mar 2011


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