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I lose a jacket potato

  Fri 19th November 2021

It's been all work and little play lately: fifty-seven hours last week, forty-seven in the one coming up. I just want to shift this overdraft and stop seeing my income merely change the shade of red on my bank statements.

I have been very tired at work, making some amusing mistakes. On Thursday, a man asked for a jacket potato with beans and cheese. He came back a few minutes later and asked about its progress. I looked around. I couldn't see the jacket potato that a couple of minutes ago was wrapped in foil on the warming shelf where we incubate the bacteria.

"Yes, sorry, just give me a minute." There was no jacket potato to be seen. I rummaged in the dustbin, thinking I might have thrown it away. Eventually I thought I'd have to microwave another. It was there in the microwave, looking limp and discoloured. I heated it up again and served it to him, with apologies.

He took it took it to his table. And I realised I hadn't put the beans on it. I heated some up in a Pyrex measuring jug, then had to do a walk of shame through the tables to pour them over his potato. Masterchef was on the telly. "Hey looby," shouted one of the customers. "You ought to watch this. You might pick up a few tips."

The other day I realised that I had left a bottle of cider in the fridge. I'd bought it on my way into work to save fannying about in the off-licence on my way home. My boss said she'd poured it down the drain as alcohol is not allowed on the premises. The following day I rang a couple of things incorrectly into the till and pocketed the money I'd spent on it, plus enough for a replacement.


On my one day off last week, I managed to persuade Mel to accompany me at a night of trippy-hippy dancing to Banco de Gaia and Transglobal Underground. Mel had met the leader singer of the latter band when she was working in Greece. Unfortunately by the time I came to book the tickets it had sold out, so we had a more cerebral night with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group instead.

As the air conditioning churned out its droning accompaniment, we tried not to think about being on a crowded, hot, dancefloor. The centre's manager bounced on stage at the end, dressed in the faux proletarian style favoured by artistic directors throughout the country, dispelling any reverie that might have been created with a puff about forthcoming events. "Wonderful", "amazing", "incredible."


Scootering through the park the other day, a cyclist behind me threw out a comment as we went through a flutter of leaves. "It the fall!" "It's lovely isn't it!" I shouted back. "It's like snow!" I felt all light and happy.

Mel has signed up with a cleaning agency with the kinkily coercive name Maid 2 Clean. She has also acquired a very attractive tight dress which gives me a great deal of pleasure. I try to encourage her towards a slight degree of tartiness. I find it a turn-on when I'm out with her and she's looking curvy and sexy, yet not being able to do much about it for being in public.

"I know you like it looby, but I don't want to go out looking like mutton dressed up as lamb." "Your problem Mel, is that you just don't realise how attractive you are." "Attractive to you."

I let it rest. There's no remedy against female self-dislike.

2 comments »

Male order

  Mon 1st November 2021

I've distanced myself from Hayley over the last few weeks. There's little in it for me. But she sent me pictures of a large diptych she's had commissioned and has executed for a posh restaurant in Cambridgeshire. She painted directly onto its concrete walls using yacht varnish. It was impressive, and I thought that maybe she was on her way to a more enjoyable life where she could enjoy things outside of her crackhead. So, after many calls and texts, I agreed to go round to hers (it's never to mine) after work.

It was a grim night; the wind throwing rain in my face. At hers it was freezing. All the windows were wide open, and my change of clothes remained unchanged into in my bag. I sat in my coat on and my hands thrust between my thighs. She showed me various marks on her legs and neck which she described as bruises, although they were more small red circular eruptions which didn't look like bruises to me.

She doesn't talk in complete sentences, let alone paragraphs. The very disjointed story was that the windows were open because her boyfriend had come into her flat -- presumably wearing a gas mask -- and wiped all the surfaces down with chloroform, before shutting it up and waiting for her to faint on returning home. The marks on her body, she claimed, were the results of a rape or an assault.

I sat there shivering, disappointed that despite such a significant and well-executed commission, nothing has changed.


It is Mel's birthday.

We meet outside a dull but central pub mid-afternoon. She's in my favourite dress and I surge with smiling delight as I walk up to her. She's sitting cross-legged in my favourite dress of hers, which shows her sexy figure off, and is taut against her blackly-tighted thighs.

The Japanese restaurant was on the harbour side and is one of a series of foodie places housed in former shipping containers. The waiter took a photo, which gives me pleasure every time I look at it, magnifying it to look at Mel. I send it to Kitty, Wendy, Kim, and my eldest. The compliments roll in for her. Every man likes having a trophy wife.

Kitty: "Oh wow! What a gorgeous pic. Mel is bloody beautiful. Truly. Gorgeous. That warms the cockles of my heart, looby. You look so happy together... This is fab. Keep the pics coming."

Wendy: "Mel is very attractive," and both my eldest and Kim repeated the bit about us looking happy together.


Back at hers, I achieve my highest ever score at Scrabble, 254, still not enough to defeat her.

I'm not sure how it started, but I tell her about when I used to take my mum's catalogue to my bedroom and wank looking at the bra models. Talking about the Grattan catalogue circa 1980 gets my cock hard. "Do you want me to...?" she says, and we stay on the sofa. "I could see all those images passing in front of your eyes, so I thought I'd better do something about it."

I tell her about sitting in my local and getting talking to groups of girls up from Wigan or Preston, one of whom will eventually pat my hand, saying "well it's been lovely chatting to you, you're so nice to talk to and I hope your daughter gets on OK in Moscow" before perking up and twiddling their hair when someone more with a more masculine carriage walks in.

I never felt more than momentarily disappointed to lose the Wigan girls. I just accepted my market value, which was somewhere between a flat cap and a pint of bitter. But it gives me a calm, not to be part of that economy.


At work, we have this godawful radio station playing 70s hits in the kitchen. I turn it off when the boss leaves, but the songs persist in auditory hallucinations from the noise of the machinery, and it sounds as though the Stylistics have locked themselves in the fridge.

6 comments »

Loose bra, no knickers

  Fri 15th October 2021

Another day, another scooter accident.

The one a few weeks ago was more physically debilitating; this one added an additional injury: to my confidence. I slipped on some cobbles which were slimed with wet leaves. I sat down on the grass to compose myself, and a passing couple gave me some tissues with which to wipe the blood away from just above my eye. With the accompanying damage to my cheek, I looked hard for a week or so.

I got back in the saddle as soon as I could. The security guard in Sainsbury's asked me how fast my scooter could go. "Well, only twenty, but that's enough."

"Well, you don't want to be going too fast at your age."

I was going to argue the point, but my leg, eye, cheek, knee, shin and hip were a little sore.


Trina and I were supposed to have been in Croatia this week, but we decided the testing regime is too worrying a thing to carry with you on holiday, so she invited me up to hers. Mel went a bit quiet when I announced my plans.

At Birmingham New Street, a tramp-like shoplifter offered me a litre of vodka. We settled on £7. On the train back down, the man sitting opposite me offered me some vodka and iced tea, which we sat drinking out of cardboard cups. He was chatty and generous, talking about his twins and his job as a night porter, and repeatedly refilling my cup.

He did his best to include the willowy woman next to us. She was content with her coffee, but we all talked easily. It was a trio which could only be composed on a train, consisting of a retired consultant dermatologist, a Polish pisshead, and an English one.

As he got off, he presented me with a bottle of the stuff we'd been drinking.

Thank you Witold!


It went very well with Trina. I was indulged even before I got there, with help with my train fare, and she was generous with the bill division whilst I was there. The women in my life treat me so well. A good deal of drinking, but had a day in Port Sunlight and the Lady Lever Art gallery there, a pleasure for fans of the reclining Victorian nuddy woman. It also holds Joseph Farquharson's Hallmarked and Clintonised picture of sheep in winter.

She drove us to Middlesbrough to see my mum, my sister, and the latter's debut solo art exhibition. Some good photography: the iron arches of Darlington station; a long, rough stone (sewage?) pipe stretching into the North Sea. Some less good textual pieces which show the influence of Farce Book.

In a cheap chain pub, one of a trio of coarse, tightly-T-shirted men said loudly as I walked past, "gotta be a paedo."


Back at Trina's, the local paper reports, with a relish I am afraid I enjoyed, some details of a fraud case involving a pensioner and a younger Italian woman.

12 comments »

I do not go to Majorca

  Sun 26th September 2021

To Lancaster. An old pal is putting on an acid house reunion at a club I used to go to infrequently.

The cheapest way of getting to Lancaster from here is to fly to Manchester via Majorca, then if you can wait around a bit in Manchester, there's a train from the airport to Lancaster for £5.90. After I took the screenshot here, the air fare came down to £38.

I couldn't be bothered with all the testing palarver though, and found a lift for £20 each way on a car-sharing site. It was a long journey, five hours in a little van, but he was chatty and had an interesting sound track, where white people sing serious songs of self-analysis. I'd have preferred silence but I realise that that is a horror to many.

He drops me off at the motorway junction and I walk up to Kirsty's. She shames me with her hospitality. "Would you like a bit of [homemade] Gruyère quiche?" Raw spinach in a lemony dressing. My youngest is there, the drummer, hugging me with her bony body.

"You know that rave you're going to? Are there any tickets available?" I was lit up. "I don't know, let's see," excited that she might be able to come with me. She wears trousers. Pale blue. Stylish and flimsy, but I was hoping for the Mondrian miniskirt. It feels a bit like going out with a new girlfriend, except we've had three children and we're a hundred-and-eighteen put together.

We get the bus to Morecambe and get in the club. Kirsty has had half an e; me, a third of an acid blotter. I shove my remaining drugs down my pants, which is a good job as we are made to empty our pockets on entry.

I sold a couple of e's but spent the evening dancing with a mysterious but pleasant feeling in my perineum. When I got back to Kirsty's, I discovered it was the plastic bag with two e's in them that had slipped down to my undercarriage.

The place was not quite full enough, but friendly and tactile. Me: "Is that your daughter?" Him: "No, it's me girlfriend." Wide-eyed stare, trying to to stop saying, "you fucking lucky bastard."

Dancing with Kirsty. Fleeting moment of thinking "why the fuck did I throw this one away?"

The Morecambe Male Lager Courtship Dance, which consists of a man in a T-shirt and shorts going up to a well-dressed girl and standing with his legs wide apart and spreading his arms. "Look at me, I'm Morecambe's gift to women." Then everyone on the dancefloor moves away and opens a space around him so that he might get the message.

Chatting to strangers. Arms around waists, sweat everywhere. A finger up to covid and its worrying subjects.

10 comments »

Mel goes to a gallery

  Wed 15th September 2021

I sit in the park, on a delicious day poised between warm clouds and cool air. I have cider, a scooter, and Winifred Holtby. Two young women in buttock wobble leggings were taking turns around the park with their beprammed babies, mercifully silent, for the moment.

"I'd hate to have a partner who..." I lean towards them as they pass, eager to know what a partner does that she'd hate, and glad Mel never introduces me to her friends using such a doleful word; but they are beyond my hearing.

I move myself and the scooter away from the park gate as I leave, to allow a motley group to pass. It's lead by a woman deftly radaring the ground with one of those blind sticks with a ball on its end. A woman in navy slacks has a badge, spangled and indicating her ninetieth birthday. She moves through the gate in an un-ninetieth way. "Oh! Happy birthday! You slamomed through that gate well!" "It's them, they make me do it," she said, pointing to the uniformed younger pair of women. "Well good on them, get you out. Well done, you're looking in fine form for ninety."

After a moment of wishing I hadn't added the qualification, I beamed with happiness from having said something nice for a change, and scootered away under the wide air and warm blanket of cloud.


To Taunton. It's the first day of Somerset v Lancashire in the County Championship.

Mel invited herself along, refusing my warnings about the long-winded nature of this format of cricket. She asked simple questions about the game that were within my ability to answer. The men we encountered walking from the station to the ground were more difficult, asking me about player selection.

I was surprised at the attendance and we had a little difficulty in finding seats, before we found two plum positions right at the front. I draped my Lancashire flag over the sponsor's advertisement. A woman a few rows behind me said in a stage whisper "I don't know how he's allowed to do that. When we used to put our jumpers over the rails the stewards used to come and tell us to move them."

On my way to the bar, I met a man from Oldham, who said he'd met someone from Bolton. "Quite a few of us here!" The steward standing a couple of yards away said "I make that three then." Inter-county merriment.

"Come on Somerset, make a contest of it," I shouted, as we rattled away at four an over. Next time, we're going in the rowdy seats, with the shouty boozers. "What did you think of it?" I asked Mel on the train. "Long. I could feel myself nodding off at points."


Back in Bristol I expected us both to go home, but she suggested coming back to mine. She's not been to mine for weeks and I wasn't expecting her to ask, so I hopingly warned her about the gallery of splayed women that I have blu-tacked next to my bed. She showed no interest, so in the morning, I said "let's conceal this lewd display of female flesh."

Yes, let's...it's your house, but... well, you can put up what you want." "Yes, it's just a private thing really." "Yes." I got a pillowcase out and secured it under a lamp so that it hanged down to conceal the photographs.

I went to the kitchen, running my tooth along my cuticle, regretting both my audacity in not hurriedly taking them down when we got in, but equally the fact that she isn't going to be like Donna 1, who used to bring girlie mags out for us to look at together.

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


M / 57 / 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

The Comfort of Strangers

23.1.16: Big clearout of the defunct and dormant and dull
16.1.19: Further pruning

If your comment box looks like this, I'm afraid I sometimes can't be bothered with all that palarver just to leave a comment.

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Another Angry Voice
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Clutter From The Gutter
Crinklybee
Eryl Shields Ink
Exile on Pain Street
Fat Man On A Keyboard
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George Szirtes ditto
Guitars and Life
Infomaniac [NSFW]
The Joy of Bex
Laudator Temporis Acti
London's Singing Organ-Grinder
The Most Difficult Thing Ever
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Trailer Park Refugee
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"Just sit still and listen" - woman to teenage girl at Elliott Carter weekend, London 2006

5:4
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Golden Pages for Musicologists
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