Gay Nazi Sex Vicar in Schoolgirl Knickers Vice Disco Lawnmower Shock!

Somaliland

  Sun 13th October 2019

Waiting on at a wedding in a country hotel. They've hired a string quartet, which in the room's laminate acoustic, becomes irritating. I tell my colleague so. "Oh. I'd have thought with your age, you'd have liked it."

A week later, another wedding, the same venue and colleague. "So how old are you, if you don't mind me asking?" "I'm fifty-six," I say, an inverted vanity adding a year to my actual age. "Oh. And you're still quite fit and healthy!" She's Welsh -- in as far as people from Newport are Welsh -- and I like working with her. I can banter with her, poking at the sensitivity of borderland people who don't have an acknowledged identity.

But the Hungarian man likes to distribute the stress he feels when it's busy, rushing and swerving around, seeing his immediate task as more important than anyone else's. Touching me all the time, little taps on my back and side to get me out of the way in a narrow bar, swatting the space I have just vacated as I stand up from fetching wine out of the fridge.

It's an attempted exercise of power, which won't succeed, because his touching me is a sign, not a symbol. (I think that's the first time I've ever found a use for my short weeks of semiology, which as its name suggests, can be a bit wanky.) In the car on the way back with my female agency worker colleagues, complaining about him released some stories.


I am early for the coach to London. I'm meeting Trina in Streatham, to see a soul singer that I introduced her to. I buy a bottle of cider and sit on the steps outside one of Bristol's pestilential student residences, hoping to offend someone whose parents pay for their tertiary education. A Somalian teenager greets me warmly with a fist pump and a "bro". He must be one of The Horn of Africa Hernia Boys, with whom I used to exercise in the park. He sits down a yard from me and gets his weed out.

A young woman walks past. "Would you grind her?" he asks. I laugh, an evasive technique I use to avoid explicit complicity in everyday sexism. He looks at me steadily, and I realise that he's asking if I have a grinder for his weed.

He starts talking about his brother. He nods towards the Tesco from which I have brought my cider, and says that he's inside. He's not referring to the Tesco Metro though. He means that he's in prison, serving a minimum of twenty-three years for a murder -- "a really bad one." I'm salaciously eager for the detail, but silence is sometimes the best way to draw someone out.

My friend says that he came down here to escape all the drug-related violence of Hulme. I tell him about a party a friend of mine went to once in Hulme. It was a tropical beach theme, so they borrowed all the electric heaters, sunlamps and other sources of heat they could find, and ordered a skipful of sand which they had poured through the flat. We swap numbers and share a joint.

On the coach I was deliciously stoned. I had no desire to drink. I started on my new book, Our Mathematical Universe by Max Tegmark. The multiverse idea is religiously seductive, a vista of limitlessness that carried me smiling halfway to London. The tired Japanese girl next to me kept jolting herself awake as her head tilted towards my shoulder, looking disgusted at herself every time her head sought a cradle. Streatham at night has an easier feel to it than I remember from twenty years ago. I wonder if it's because the Somalians are here now, diluting the per capita alcohol intake.


Jenny, my impoverished, but unselfpitying middle daughter, tells me of the times when her and her sisters were only able to go on some extra-curricular trips and overnight stays with school because of assistence they had from the school's Hardship Fund. She found out a few weeks ago that there was no Hardship Fund. The money came from the teachers having a whip round for them.

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House music

  Mon 30th September 2019

Me and Hayley went out dancing the other night. We got back at about five, whispering so as not to provoke the angry lump in the next room.

We got into bed and she plugged herself into some house music while I attempted some pre-school sleep. There was a comfort from the mdma, her body touching mine, the ticking music. A couple of hours later she was delighed to find my bottles of poppers on the table, so we sat up snorting them and drinking from some minty Bulgarian liquer thing which I bought one needy night from the nearest shop open.

Her boyfriend rang inopportunely, as the toxic fug throbbed. She told him she was at mine. "Are you in his bed?" "Yes. It's nice and warm." Are you really in his bed? Are you being sarcastic?"

She paused and made a grimace, rushing, in more ways than one, her answer. "Yes of course!" After having answered his queries about where she was going, what she was doing, she came back to me, laughing and imitating him. "He said 'what if I said I was going to spend the night at Dawn's?' I said 'I wouldn't give a shit!'"

"I'm not that bothered anyway, if he carries on like this. I can get someone else," and I felt momentarily bitter about her having that choice, her valuable currency in the economy of attractiveness.

Walking into town, Hayley still in her nightclub clothes, a man about my age, sitting in the window seat of a cafe, gave her a disgusted looking scan, finishing for too long on her miniskirt: a disgust with his own desires perhaps. I went to the window, leant towards him; give him the finger and told him to fuck off. I felt all manly and protective, safely picking on someone weaker than myself.


After what seemed an endless wait, but was in fact twenty-four hours, Cath rings to tell me I've got the room in the suburban Edwardian house, and I move in today. There were two conditions: that I don't take showers between 10.30pm and 6.30am, as the noisy old pipes will wake everyone up, and that I can give her a reference from my current landlady together with a phone number for her.

I needed someone to impersonate for me. The person I trust most to recite the story convincingly, and to improvise if thrown any unexpected questions, is a longstanding reader of this blog. He adroitly pulled off the dissembling phone call and contacted me to say it had gone well. "She seemed to like you." I was -- am -- hugely grateful and relieved. If ever you need an alibi, my friend, ring me first.

Since informing her of my departure, Unhinged Landlady has been working herself up with valedictory sallies of sniping. She asked me with whom I'll be living. "Well,", she responded, the woman won't like you." I smiled, said nothing, went to my room. None of this is really to do with me. The woman's an unhappy bully, uncivilised, not fully formed.

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Park life

  Sun 22nd September 2019

Yesterday I went to see a room in a house. I was on the verge of cancelling the viewing several times because of its distance from town. I like the unpredictability of living in central Bristol. I like walking home in the small hours, with all its night-time opportunities.

I got off the bus, and turned into the unfamiliar stillness of suburbia. Cath, the owner, my age -- grey cotton floor-length dress -- showed me in and apologised for leaving me with her daughter for a few minutes, but we talked easily and I didn't fancy her. She'd been to Albania, a rich topic.

The houses, Cath told me, were completed in 1929. The flat front windows have protruding rectangular windowed sections on either side. "Why do you want to live here?" was one of her questions. Amongst other things, I said that I'd forgotten how lovely English Edwardian domestic architecture can be, how it has a sense of order without being full-on Modernist plain. I meant it both objectively and as a compliment to her taste.

She showed me to the room that I hope, as I glance every minute at my stubbornly quiet phone, will be mine. Light washes from the west and I imagined writing there.

It has a garden made for boozy lunches. It's five minutes walk from Bristol's first micropub, fifteen from the county cricket club, and the main road is lined with independent shops selling things that one can use: mangoes, Allen keys, hats. There's a Lithuanian "general store" which is general in the sense that they generally sell a general range of East European beer. There's a park which I could use for sleeping, reading, drinking, and not thinking.

I sat next to an elderly, rheumy cat whose purr is more a trill. Cath wanted to know if I was "left-leaning". I got my membership for a leftwing party out of my jacket and regretted doing so. You're trying too hard. I know you're desperate to move in here but try to be subtle about it.

"Have you got a partner? Or someone who'll be staying over from time to time?" I thought with some awkwardness about Hayley. "One lives in hope Cath. No." She's going to ring me. When, she didn't say.


In the private school in which I work as a dinner lady I work with three English women, and three Jamaicans. The chef, a man, gives me simple, repetitive jobs like coring and slicing a sack full of peppers. I'm happy in my little corner, earwigging on my colleagues' chatter. I don't particularly want to learn or get better at anything.

The English women look worn out, with gappy teeth, thin hair and bony faces. I wonder about their toiling histories. They make poor but amusing jokes at the end of the shift to keep me out of the room in which we get changed. "You can come in now looby. I've just started my performance!" Inside, she was imitating a stripper's dance, swinging her hair net about her head.

The chef suggested I apply for the permanent position there; a teacher serving teachers their dinners. It's relatively good money -- £18,600 pro rata -- but I like the variety of agency work, and I'm finding it a struggle to get up at eight o'clock when I only get home at 1 or 2am from my evening work washing up in hotels. I started the application form but gave up at the stage where it asked for my complete employment history.

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Ain't nothing going on but the rent

  Fri 20th September 2019

Knackered. No time to write. Working seven days this week, as a dinner lady in a private school from ten till half two, then at the pot wash in the bowels of a central Bristol hotel (revealing photos to follow). This weekend I will see the sky during my working day for a change, at a techno and drum n' bass festival.

Still nowhere to live in ten days' time. More later.

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All Nigerians are thieves

  Wed 11th September 2019

Up at 5am, walking an hour to work, in the rain, without a coat, in shoes that leak, to work at the dishwasher for eight hours, with a soggy sock blotting my foot. A man prone to self-pity would be inclined to broadcast these facts in a public forum.

I stood entirely on my own for fifty minutes in a huge kitchen. I didn't know how to turn the dishwasher on, despite caressing it gently on its undercarriage and murmuring all kinds of cajoling words.

I started doing some washing-up by hand, muttering "I don't know how to turn it on" repeatedly; and Hayley filling my mind, a sour jealousy amplified in the hard, utilitarian steel of the kitchen which seemed to mock me for having emotions.

In such situations pressing random buttons sometimes helps (and it is difficult for a new person to know which buttons to press, after all). Its green eye started blinking, and a stentorian sound of rushing liquid rumbled from its innards.

My fellow KP came in at 8am, a calming Nigerian man. Good KPs are unflappable in the face of yards of washing up. We chatted about the bar he runs in Lagos. He has to go back every now and again to check up on it, "because all Nigerians are thieves. It's the way we are."

One of the chefs "asked" me to help him for a moment. "Can you clear the burn?"

For one lovely moment I hoped that my Wertherian longing for Hayley was about to be transposed, and we were away northwards to drain a stream in Scotland. What faced me was hideous: a six-feet-long, two-feet-deep bath of glossy, festering lumps of flesh. To my relief, my Nigerian senior jumped in to do it. Later, I had to lay out some trays of chicken bones. They were more chicken parts, un-neutered throats and stomachs and trailing entrails.

Half an hour before my shift was to end, I was the recipient of a welcome criticism. "There won't be enough work for me this afternoon. Work slower."


I met Hayley briefly yesterday morning. Her miniskirt, a polyestered faux-bouclé halfway between purple and cerise, stretching almost as sexily over her legs as the black vest which she lifted up for me -- once -- did over her tits. She had asked to stay with me for a couple of days, to which I agreed, but I was relieved to be told that a work colleague of hers has a spare room for a week or so.

I'm preoccupied with what will happen should my references for my new room come back as a warning to future landlords. Hayley can be a demanding presence, and I am often weakened with a mixture of imagined sex, and a generosity towards her, to go along with proposals of hers which can come with an opportunity cost to myself. I have to work; find somewhere to live; and help my daughter - who is barely surviving as the poorest member of her acting course.

But not this weekend. In another stage in the rapprochement between me and Trina, I've been invited to a joint sixtieth in Manchester with people around that age and who -- young people should sit down now, and steady themselves with a plastic jug of coloured alcohol -- like dancing to house music.

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


M / 55 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

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

WLTM literate woman, 40-65. 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

Tell me, why is it that even when we are enjoying music, for instance, or a beautiful evening, or a conversation in agreeable company, it all seems no more than a hint of some infinite felicity existing apart somewhere, rather than actual happiness – such, I mean, as we ourselves can really possess?
Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

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.
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

Using words well is a social virtue. Use 'fortuitous' once more to mean 'fortunate' and you move an English word another step towards the dustbin. If your mistake took hold, no-one who valued clarity would be able to use the word again.
John Whale

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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