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

Rhubarb and custard

  Sat 8th May 2021

Hayley rings, the day after her deadline for moving out, asking me for the number of the Man with Van who moved me. A couple of days later, and after some pleading, I walk to hers, my hot feet moaning at the prolongation of their shift after twelve hours at work. In the lift, there is a poster requesting "no spitting".

Her new place is spacious, with a living room showing off views to the rise up to the postcardy bit of Bristol, but has the bleakness of a recently eviscerated flat. She has no sheets on the bed. The lightbulbs stare autistically at the white vinyl flooring, working together to dissuade a woman who wants everything to be done, rather than to do it, from making the flat her home.

We make plans for a decorating party which will never happen. She'll lapse back to her boyfriend's, which is already her de facto home address. We share a bottle of Pieroni. I listen. I give her the couple of grams for which she said she was going to pay me.

Resolutions for henceforth: money from Hayley in my hand first; only then the handover. At times, she's a taker.

Looking at my leaky bank account the other day, I calculated that, in the last thirty days, I have spent eighty-seven pounds on bus fare.

I wrest myself from Mel's arms at 7am to look at an electric scooter on ebay. I trump all bids with four seconds to go, the slowness of Mel's phone's internet connection working excitingly to delay my hurdling over the others. The scooter arrived when I was out, and was taken in by someone in the same block as me.

When I collected it, he wanted to take a picture of me with it as "some people claim it's not been received. Let's have a nice big smile." I felt like some starlet being ogled in a soft porn photoshoot, certainly the first time in my fifty-seven years that I have felt like a starlet in a soft porn photoshoot. "They're actually illegal you know. I know they're everywhere but they're illegal on the public roads."

"It's not a scooter mate, it's full of weed." My joke, intended as a stopper for his hectoring mouth by making him think that he'd been harbouring fifteen kilos of cannabis in his flat overnight, went unnoticed, and he finally released the scooter to my possession.

I "assembled" it, in a manual operation at the limits of my engineering skills involving no fewer than four screws and an Allen key. It looked tall, black, and daunting. But today, under Mel's supervision I took it up and down our close. I think it's going to be jolly good fun.

I told middle daughter about it, saying that I'll feel happier once I've got a helmet. "You'll have to go into a shop for that. You and mum have bequeathed us very small heads. I can't get that sort of thing off the internet."

I can't remember the last time that due to my impatience to get everything off, my trousers, pants and socks ended up in a sort of rolled up sex ball on the floor. I fucking love it, when all the preliminaries are disposed of, and the murmuring collapses into an abandoned, inelegant undressing. Then afterwards we sat there in this sweaty Ready Brek glow of love. I'd made us a rhubarb crumble shortly before this episode. It was quite tart and Mel enjoyed more than one mouthful.

I won't mention this to Trina when I see her though. It's my brother's fiftieth in July and I was going to use the day to present Mel to my clan, but the care home in which my brother resides under benevolent control has changed the date for the barbeque to one which clashes with a family do for her.

So I've invited Trina instead, who is glad to come. I don't know if I'm prolonging her frustration by doing this. I know what it's like to feel corroded by unrequited attraction, and how the friendliness of the desired one can add more hurt. But she gets on well with my mum, and I need a drinker-in-arms to rescue me, once nightfall comes, from my family's teetotalism.



  Sat 24th April 2021

It's half past ten and I've just got in after work. Hayley has been tugging at me -- six missed calls; texts pleading with me to ring her as soon as I've left work. I've done thirty-two hours shoe-horned into three days, in a works canteen where I serve large dollops of unhealthy food to large unhealthy men. I'm low on resources to spend on others.

Upstairs on the bus with aching feet and a bottle of cider, watching Bristol on a determined Saturday night out. Women whose feet will feel worse than mine by midnight; skirts tightening and riding up. How glad I am to see them.

I ring Hayley, who is on track 1 of side A again, Boyfriend Woes. She wants: me to come round, five pounds for a bottle of wine, and for someone to do her move tomorrow; the implication being, me. She's done nothing about it by herself despite several weeks' notice of the date. "Well, I don't know," she says. "There's Wayne over the road... maybe I could ring the police, they're sometimes nice."

I am not giving up my day with Mel tomorrow to rescue you Hayley.

At home, mid-shower, she rings again. I ring her back, saying that I'll put a fiver in now, exaggerating my tiredness and annoyance. I put seven pounds in her bank account. All is silent.

There is rejoicing in the House of looby. Middle daughter, who, at the age of one, almost ruptured her mother's stomach by bouncing on it at 5am, announcing "I, awake!" -- has landed a proper acting job at a big Northern producing theatre. She announced it from Leeds, where she'd been for her "third recall", which I am guessing means fourth audition.

I am radiant like a heater with joy for her, and a fervid hope that this will be the start of her making a living out of what she's always wanted to do. She's a dogged and constantly optimistic Lancashire lass who's had no advantages at all in a world in which working class candidates are filtered out by endless train fares, unpaid work, and assumptions of money available to pay for every bit of candidacy, which neither me nor her mum can provide.

I don't know how much more inspection my out of date rail pass can withstand, but I want to join the whole looby clan, who will cancel everything to see her when it's put on -- before we're shunted into the pub after the show while she goes off to glitter.


For the first time in my life, I cook bacon

  Tue 13th April 2021

I've got a few days in a works canteen. I'm on my own most of the time and the shifts are up to twelve hours long. I had got to the age of fifty-seven without flipping a burger or cooking bacon.

The pricing seems to be determined by the closeness of the manager's friendships with the individuals, and several people bridled at me charging them the published prices, so I've had to draw up a long list of concessions. I was told this morning that the manager likes me, unfortunately.

In Castle Park after work, the hot sun lit a model of social inclusion so inclusive it could have been staged.

It was great to see some of the familiar denizens again: the man who looks a bit like Jamiroquai was perched on his bit of wall and got talking to the peripatetic habitué of Wethers; the man who's overdone the henna a bit and who is left alone to sleep in between intervals of talking to himself and swinging a small bottle of vodka like a pendulum.

Two Muslim women sat on a bench next to an East European couple who were parking an over-stuffed pushchair, with a baby lost somewhere amongst the Wilko bags. We just lacked the sixtysomething who rides around on an Elvised-up bike with a large speaker belting out stadium rock classics.

Someone saw me struggling to get my cider open on a wee jut of stone, and hailed me. "I'll do it with my lighter," he said, before failing to find his lighter. From another group, a lighter was thrown to him and he took my cider and popped it like champagne. A man in a tight vest swaggered past and... asked to borrow a lighter.

Someone sat down with our shapely protagonist, who said he'd just got out of prison after five years. One or the other was trying to angle it towards drugs. "No, I don't really do that any more, well only you know, occasionally," almost apologising. An irritant -- "I don't really find exams difficult. I've never had an exam in which I've got less than 80%" - buzzed off once his time was up, to fret with Excel in an office.

Once the workers bees return to prison, the atmosphere loosens a bit. There was drum and bass from one quarter, house from another, and there was something else which I couldn't identify. Unfortunately it also loosens the bladder.

Hayley and boyf turned up and started snogging on the grass, because I like being tested for jealousy on a hot afternoon, so to escape the erotic tension I went to have a piss behind the old Bank of England building and laughingly, in cahoots with them, I had to wait for two girls to finish.

Yesterday, the pubs -- outdoor areas only -- were allowed to re-open in England, and with it the chance to dive down to my socio-economic level after a year of pretending I find walking interesting, and half-heartedly trying to identify trees. The weather made it a keen pleasure, but I stayed for three pints.

Every table was taken by half eleven. Couple on the table next to me had been there since half nine. How I've missed earwigging on other people's conversation, and the peculiar pleasure of being on your own with other people.

Man on table 1 to man on table 2: "Fucking 'ell mate, been a year when we can't go out and now you're sat there with your fucking headphones on. Why you doing that?" Another man from table 1: "Cos he"s a cunt."


In a school, I make lumpy custard

  Thu 1st April 2021

Three days' work in a school canteen. Young Italian chef who was once told by an Indian hotel manager that he was "doing the pasta wrong". A brigade of middle-aged women, some of the anonymous saints who do the poorly paid work that holds up everyone else's vanity.

They were friendly, funny and foul-mouthed. Their manager is off on long-term sick which they are all hoping will become final; she insists on throwing food away rather than letting the staff have a meal.

"It doesn't matter, we all take the piss out of her behind her back," said Jules, before going into an exaggerated dance where she thrust her hips forward and crossed and uncrossed her arms in front of them, accompanying it with a sforzato "take, that, bitch!"

The sous chef was a cheery Rasta who, seeing a new dog in a pack, had to establish his place in the hierarchy. We got on fine; all I had to do was nod and say "wow, really, did you?" all the time. I felt a bit sorry for him at the end though because out of nine hundred children only two chose a pot noodle thing he made, and it's shit seeing the food you've made getting sluiced.

We walked back to the bus stop together and the unenglish cultural pattern of constant touching came out. I normally welcome any tactile punctuation (Kitty is lovely at it), but there was something a bit challenging about the way he kept putting him arm against mine. I wished it were the women I were walking with.

I'm going up to Lancaster later this afternoon for essential travel reasons, as these Lindt bunnies are going to melt soon if they don't spend four hours on a train. Me and my shit telly and red wine little boos will all be together for the first time since Christmas.

Eldest has landed a TEFL job in the state school system in Russia, middle one is looking for acting jobs (she's a graduate of a well-known drama school down here), and doing FOH in a Manchester theatre as soon as it re-opens, and youngest is doing Chinstroking and French at mine and her mum's alma mater, and playing in two bands. Then there's our semi-adoptee, who's had to stifle a few tears in her young life and is counted as one of us now. I love my little clan of girls.


Five and seven

  Thu 25th March 2021

Last weekend, Mel suggested her coming over and staying for two nights. "We could relax a bit more." I smilingly acceded to the suggestion for as long as she could see my face, then let it unmask into worry in the kitchen. Is it now that the little irritations start? The sexless "tiredness"?

In fact, the weekend didn't seem a moment too long. Mel's spent most of the past thirty years in Greece, so I overcooked us a spanokopitta, which came out rather dry and spongy. She'd said that the oven was fast, so I turned the heat down and left it in longer, but in future I'll just follow the recipe.

It didn't matter at all. Afterwards, she put on the shoes, and my other investments. We turned up the heating, which, handily for lovers, is included in the rent here. She looked down at her tits, bemused. She doesn't find herself as sexy as I do.

Reporting this to Kim after she'd left, Kim said "so, looby, are you going to have your Boring Years now? Stable girlfriend, own flat?"

I went to the bingo and raffle afternoon yesterday and sat with some of the other rezzies in my block. I was nervous about how I'd fit in, and felt scrutinised at first, but as the chicken legs and chocolate rolls kicked in everyone relaxed.

We're not allowed to sit in the communal lounge, so we're all in the right angle of a corridor instead. Six women, two blokes. "Oh!" said Keith. "So you've come for your initiation then?" Carol juggled her tits when 88 came up, and I said "ey up, double trouble". "Don't make me jealous!" said Lena. Brenda farted as I was going to get one of my prizes. "Was that you?" I said. "Don't mistake me for a lady, love." I wondered if we were being secretly filmed by Ken Loach.

They knew all the phrases for the numbers, a folk knowledge that will die out soon, with words like "fat" and "legs" being censored as mechanical numbers-only bingo takes over. I was taught several new ones. like 77, Sunset Strip; 69, Yours and Mine.

I won a tube of hand cream, a tin of baked beans and a packet of cheese straws in the raffle. Brenda asked me afterwards if I'd enjoyed it and I said "no, it were shit." I helped with the tidying up, in order to conceal from the block's management evidence of us associating.

I picked up the post from my old address the other day. If one simply ignores debts, they eventually dwindle and die.


:: Next >>

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.

63 mago
Another Angry Voice
the asshat lounge
Clutter From The Gutter
Eryl Shields Ink
Exile on Pain Street
Fat Man On A Keyboard
gairnet provides: press of blll defunct, but retained for its quality
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
Strange Flowers
Trailer Park Refugee
Wonky Words

"Just sit still and listen" - woman to teenage girl at Elliott Carter weekend, London 2006

Bristol New Music
Desiring Progress Collection of links only
Golden Pages for Musicologists
Lauren Redhead
The Rambler
Resonance FM
Sequenza 21
Sound and Music
Talking Musicology defunct, but retained

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