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

It would help me if you died

  Tue 14th July 2020

In as insouciant a tone as I can muster, I suggest to Davina, the lesbian we met in the pub garden the other week, that we could follow up on our idea of going for a drink again. Her text, in which she suggests Sunday in a pub garden, has me beaming at the phone.

After a subtle bit of mutual vetting about The Drugs Question, I hand the speed round by putting it in her friend's cap, which we take turns to admire. The drink prices are forbidding though, and she suggests we take some bottled cider up the park. Davina's friend has to go, and me and Davina chat for hours until we're shivering in the dark. Some young people are importing the eighties, with a ghetto blaster playing Grandmaster Flash and the Sugarhill Gang over the soundtrack of Bristol: the repeated flaring of nitrous oxide balloons and the bright chinking of the canisters. Davina dances her way back from the improvised outdoor pissoir.

Cath invites me to take my breakfast porridge with her. Something's wrong. It's to tell me that the landlord is giving us notice on the house within the next few weeks. Our suburban stability dashed. She suggests that she'd like our little made-up family to stay together: me, her and her daughter, who was going to take over Richard's room. To the estate agents, me and Cath will present as a couple.

Cath's talking collapses into tears, worries about the elderly deaf cat whom she said, quite without justification, might have to be put down. "She's going to lead the rest of her natural life out with us Cath. She's not going to any vet." I'm not sure whether to put my arm round her.

She's already arranged a viewing of a house for Wednesday. I'm glad that we're in this together. Someone to pal up with, rather than doing every fucking thing in life on your own. And it's insulation against the prejudices of the spangly-dentured youngsters in the private rental market, who'll rarely consider someone so decrepit for the vacant room.

Nonetheless, it's unnerving. There's no particular need for Cath and her daughter to trail me around with them.

I apply for five jobs, none of which I want: working in a Covid testing centre, two warehouse jobs, train cleaner, and retail security guard. But I need something to show the estate agent. I ring round some almshouses, whose prospectuses use words like "needy". I'm not old enough for most of them, but I've got myself on the waiting list for a couple. "They tend to come up quite suddenly", said one home manager. I'm waiting for someone to die.

I notice a woman in the street opposite trimming her bush. According to a report from Northeast Lincolnshire University (formerly Grimsby Drugscope), incidents of voyeurism have increased by 37% since the onset of the plague.


I discuss nipples with a woman

  Fri 10th July 2020

I am greeted at Hayley's door with enthusiastic oral attention. Details are sometimes difficult to extract from Hayley, but she said she acquired the dog from someone whose boyfriend was getting jealous of it. I smiled to coat a sigh, wondering when she'd pass it on again, and how much I'd get lumbered with its walks and welfare. He's a meaty Staffie, friendly and well-behaved. I haven't heard him bark once in a week.

En route to the park, to which I now take a latex glove to handle the saliva-shined ball, I have to encourage him off a passing neighbour. "He's a boy," I respond to her question. "But he's got nipples," she says. "Yes but so have I."

Hayley's friend Faye was here at the weekend. We went to a pub garden which looks like a film set for a sitcom about the eco-slumming middle classes whose wigger hairstyles and turned-up dungarees are nested in half-million-pound houses. I felt a simmering disgust at them, blithely ordering rounds when a simple pint of cider was £4.50.

We went back to Hayley's slovenly street with its unapologetic public drinking, and played Rude Scrabble until dawn, tittering like children and arguing about whether "ox" is a rude word. "Yeah, but, you could say 'you've got a cock like an ox'," I proposed.

Hayley and Harry went to bed. What for, I don't know: despite him saying to me the other day "...because I'm quite into her, really," he hasn't been into her for several weeks now.

Me and Faye left together in the afternoon. She was off to work her tightly-trousered charm on the crack dealer. I went to the pub and tried to resume my correspondence with Wendy's dad, but my eyes wouldn't let me.

Dear looby

Thank you for attending your selection event for the vacancy at Discipline and Punish.

This vacancy attracted a number of highly qualified applicants and after careful consideration of all of the applications we are sorry to tell you that you have not been selected for appointment.

However, as you were a strong candidate we would like to keep your name on a reserve list. This list will be valid for 12 months from the date of this correspondence and if another vacancy arises for the same position we will contact you.

Shame, quite fancied flouncing around a courtroom.


Look at me

  Thu 2nd July 2020

My boss at the Plague Attenuation Centre asks me how I'm getting on with the unpaid online study we're expected to do.

Despite several deadening hours on Infection Control and Paediatric Resuscitation, I can't get the pass marks required in the tests. I resent being expected to do this unpaid. Neither do I look forward to self-suffocating every day in my clothy breath, in a job where I couldn't care less whether anyone gets better or worse as a result of my actions, an attitude which might not be that expected of NHS employees.

I send her an email saying I've been offered another job. I hadn't, but the agency offers two days' work on a badly drawn estate on which its architects would never live. We're cleaning flimsy student-occupied houses. I like the physical effort, sweating, and banter with my colleagues. At the end of the first day, my supervisor says "I'm going to ask if I can have you on my team again tomorrow. You just crack on with it." I feel boyish, the pleasure of pleasing.

It's the third hottest day on record in Bristol. I make three salads and serve them up for Cath and Richard. Everyone woofs them down, which is the best reward one can get from cooking.

Cath asks me to take some pictures of her for her profile on a dating site. She had just criticised me for pointing out a woman walking past our house, of whom I said "that woman there, she works in the newsagents. Don't you reckon Cath, if she did her hair and had a bit of make up and some better clothes, she'd be quite a looker?" She didn't like me saying that.

"So hang on, you're telling me that it's an unfeminist thing to say to someone to get some make-up on, then you ask me to take some pictures of you for a dating site? I'm not saying that the newsagent woman should get some nice clothes just for lascivious attention from blokes." "I'd love some lascivious attention from blokes."

We laughed and had another glass of wine. I scratched my head and looked at the table for a few seconds, because if Cath is in need of lascivious attention, she wouldn't have to look far to get it.

The pubs are allowed to re-open on Saturday, but I'm having second thoughts about going. It'll attract all the part-time drinkers who can't handle it, shouting and screaming their heads off as they gobble multinational lager and order food to smear on the table and floor.

I want to drink with chronic, dedicated drinkers, those who continue to compile a long list of regretted pointless arguments, cruel and unjust put-downs to others, friendships strained to breaking point or final severance, missed appointments, trains, work days and birthdays, yellow-flowered bed-wetting incidents, hours spent slumped against a wall, disciplinaries and sackings, getting in at 7am and crashing loudly against objects which normally go untouched, mornings spent apologising, well-intentioned, unsatisfying and sometimes comical sex, lucky journeys home, long seconds desperately trying to remember who the fuck is the friendly, chatty person who comes up to you and remembers you from Friday --a day of which your recall stops around 11am, and muddy bruises and scabbed-over wounds which caused not the slightest pain at the time.

These are my people. A weekday afternoon sesh is when we might commune, in the latte-free places for the unravelled and dishevelled, where no-one talks about work because no-one does any.


I am surrounded by lesbians

  Sun 28th June 2020

It's just me and landlady Cath in the house. We're a little stoned, and I'm laughing a lot. She's lifting and arching her foot towards pointe. She's undoubtedly attractive.

She tells me that Richard, our housemate, is buying a house with his girlfriend. I'm crestfallen, thinking of the search for a new co-tenant, the anxiety about whether they'll fit in, but Cath asks me what I'd think about her daughter moving back in. This cheers me up.

"So," she says, referring to the time when it looked as though we'd be joining in a Civil Partnership, "we'll be a little family after all." I felt all cosy and a bit wet-eyed.

In a leafy square, a young man coiffured from the Toilet Brush School of Hairdressing has one arm round a girl, while the other rests on a big speaker which loudly dominates the square with an ugly rap music, all braggadocio and misogyny. Me and Hayley are separated on the bench by the deadening presence of her well-meaning boyfriend. Hayley is looking exceptionally sexy. "Are they new tights?" I'd asked her earlier when we were alone. "Yes, do you like them?" "Mmmm."

He's sent back to the house to fetch some keys. She's hard on him, when she wants him to be hard on her. I feel a bit sorry for him. He tries to join in with our ping-pong verbal sparring, always arriving that second too late. I've been him so often, the awkwardly-positioned third party, the laggard gooseberry. She tells me that, really, she likes women. "Basically, men, to me, are business."

"Hello!" A young female voice from behind me. It's someone from the group of people sitting near us outside the pub last weekend when the football landed in my pint. She's on a high from a first date. Hayley doesn't like us talking together, and Davina has to insist on talking to me over her interruptions. "No, I know, it's just I want to talk to looby for a moment."

I engineer an escape to the offy with Davina. She's an underwriter, which is interesting enough, but I want to know about her date. She shows me a picture of the woman concerned. "Phwaor, Davina, she's a fittie!" Has she got a sister? Because my friend's just told me she's mainly gay.

We swap numbers, and later that evening, I text her saying that I want to be her friend and to know how the second date went.

Hayley wants me come with her to her dealer's house. I'm reluctant. "I will, because you've asked me to, but I can't stay long. I've got this interview tomorrow at nine." Hayley talked incessantly, burning up the coke into a stream of consciousness. A man whom everyone else knows walks in and sits down next to me. I try to talk to him but he opens his hands and gestures to Dealer Man, me, and Hayley. "I'm just gettting three conversations here." I stop talking.

On the tail end of three big, free, lines of coke, and as many hours of attempted sleep, I am Zoomed into two people's houses, and interviewed for an admin job with the Department for Naughty Boys. I improvise stories about "situations", "responses" and "outcomes", that never happened.

I am more worried about the loss of my bank card, and more seriously, the erroneously-issued rail pass from which I have had thousands of pounds' worth of free travel. After cancelling the less valuable one with the bank, I find them in the shoes that I was wearing that night. I'd cycled home with them in my shoe.


Black magic

  Sat 20th June 2020

I cycle to a tree-shaded public square. White people in their twenties are doing yoga. It looks ridiculous and striving, but it's peaceable, and I don't feel frowned upon for drinking beer at 11am. My reading gives me an insulating warrant of harmlessness.

Hayley and Tammy are going to Primark on its reopening. We meet afterwards in Castle Park. Azimuth sun. Hayley likes the speed, and says she'll chip in towards the next lot. "No, no. You'll never pay for yours." They complain about boyfriends and the tactics needed to keep them, and the provider of sexual enjoyment, separate and keen. I'm the honorary girl again, but I like it, being included, and not as a favour. It's a feeling as warm as the sun is upon us.

Harry turns up. Me and Tammy have been advising her to keep him on, despite his sexual failings. The air between them is a lot easier than at the weekend, probably connected with the fact that Hayley has taken the untoward step of going to sleep in the interim.

Tammy, who is affected by the long tail of a stroke, but whose greater impediment at this moment is her narrow dress, levers herself up on her stick to go home. The first attempt doesn't work. "Come on Tammy," I say, "you're looking like an old spaz." It's been an unselfconscious, friendly afternoon. The girls are gorgeous, Hayley especially, who looks a bit like a London raver c.1998: unzipped black jacket pushed open by her tits, bare legs, and trainers.

I walk Hayley home. The men's scanning looks at her, a mirror of my own. At my house, thrust into respectability, I suddenly feel much more drunk than I did in the park, and betray it during a ham-fisted explanation, involving C18th architecture, of where I've been. I feel like a naughty boy.

Next day, I am up bright and early, put on my costume for work. Not an inkling of any ripples from the day before.

I cycle to the wrong pick-up point. The works van picks me up from my erroneous location. As soon as I climb in, I start feeling sick. I force sociable sentences out. We lurch twelve miles to a village hall, where I can't fake it any more, and someone asks me if I'm OK. They lay me down on the floor with my feet up. I vomit. They call an ambulance. They do tests and stay with me a long time, before I convince them that I'm OK. The nurse in charge has to cancel the session, sending all the donors away.

They put me and my bike in the van to run me home, but a minute in the van and I am vomiting again. The ambulance picks me up and I'm taken to hospital. "How are you feeling now?" says the ambulance man, and I convulse another stream of vomit up. I am put into a draughty back-revealing gown.

The receiving nurse arrives and pulls the curtains round. Instantly, she does magic on me. She checks my details against my wristband, but even before she says anything I know I can tell her. She's stylish and attractive in her concave-waisted black tunic, unbound straight black hair just short of shoulder length, dark eyes, black-rimmed glasses. I wonder if such an ensemble is deliberate.

"Probably about six, seven pints of cider, and several lines of speed. And sitting in the sun for several hours," I add, hoping to encourage the diagnosis of sunstroke which had been floated earlier. "Any water? Or food?" "No." "So, what's the earliest time you would have a drink?" And "do you take other drugs, Mr looby? Recreational drugs?" She knows already.

An older woman arrives to put a cannula in. I'm impressed at her efficiency in seeming to go under my vein and then into it. I'm put on drips of saline solution, vitamins and minerals, and an anti-emetic. "Drugs and alcohol," I hear my black-clad seer say to the venepuncturer.

A few hours later the consultant comes round. "So, have you any idea what that was?" he asks. "Well, possibly sunstroke, in my uneducated guess." We have an amiable chat about his experience of la peste and I am sent home with a referral to the alcohol and drug services and an exhortation to drink more water, every day. At home, my housemates' friendly curiosity makes me feel interviewed. I tell them that the session overran a bit and try to look bright.

I tell Hayley all about it first. She sends me solicitous texts, suffixed with kisses. "Come back to mine. Stay here. I want to know you're better." "I'd love to but that'd cause problems here. I can't my love." "Well, [pet name], let me know if I can help. Even in a thunderstorm I'd come and help you xxxxx".


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

M / 56 / 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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