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

Is that a normal man?

  Mon 1st March 2021

Ah-ha! Finally worked out how to get the internet on the rather complicated router-clock-intercom-VoIP phone contraption in my new flat.

I moved in on Wednesday. The removal man was called Mr Stent, so I was worried he'd have a heart attack as he struggled with my sofa.

Having been barred by the block's management from using the communal lounge for their weekly raffle and bingo, the residents now come closer in the corridor. Me, Mr Stent and a cheerily helpful resident barged apologetically between them, arresting their dabbers poised over possibly remunerative numbers.

Mel came round and watched me timidly wire up the electric cooker her friend had given me. I poked the on switch and leapt back. A silent elemental red started glowing under the black screen.

Just as everything was in, I got a phone call offering me an almshouse. Whilst the nature of the tenancy here is highly attractive, the neighbourhood -- where vegetables are harder to find than pornography -- is not. This is not the gaily coloured Bristol of the postcards; it's white, working class suburbia, where B&M Bargains is your best bet for a food shop. The almshouse is in the city centre, a bungalow in a quiet street behind one of the oldest churches in Bristol.

The next day I rang the manager to express a concern. I'd heard that some almshouses impose in the Licence a prohibition on overnight guests. She confirmed that this was the case in St Joseph's Close, so I declined the offer, and omitted to say anything about how the poor are always expected to be models of chastity in a way never demanded of people with their own housing.

Besides, the accommodation seems to have a baleful effect on one's health: this is the (uncropped) picture on their website with which they lure potential residents.

Mel came round for the weekend. I was nervous about the volume at which she wanted the music on, and we have very few overlapping areas in our Venn diagrams of likes. Had I not insisted on us improvising our own soundtrack, she'd have had it on whilst we had sex.

She was disappointed by my dinner offering of three-day-old reduced price quiche, cauliflower, sprouts and carrots. I agree that that ensemble might lack a certain seductive allure, but my kitchen armoury until yesterday consisted of two dinner knives and forks, and a saucepan. The carrots, refusing the blunt edge of the knife, turned my worktop into a skid pan. I am also financially wrung out from overlapping rent payments at Cath's and here.

She refused it, and all I could offer instead was scrambled eggs. I usually warm plates, so I poured some boiling water onto hers. Turning into the living room to humour her, aware that I had displeased her, I then returned to the eggs. Forgetting my plate-warming technique, I plonked them down into the hot water.

"I'm a bit disappointed looby. I thought you were going to cook something nice for me. 'Oh, I can make a souffle!' and now it's out-of-date quiche."

"It was in date when I bought it. Anyway it's nicer at room temperature." "Yeah but not three days."

But we're at the sexed-up stage where desire can stifle arguments, and a couple of hours and a bottle of wine later she asked "do you want me to dress up?", a cock-hardening question which I pretended to be reluctant in answering. The sex, now I'm free from Cath's supervision, was the best yet. Selfish, for both of us, many overlapping pleasures. "I like it when you're in all this," I said. "It reduces you to sex."

As I was sitting in the park the other day, a little girl walked past and enquired of her parents, "is that a normal man?"


I am domesticated

  Fri 12th February 2021

On Thursday I was alone in a courtroom, controlling the technical side of an online application hearing, which would normally have been held with all parties present in that room.

I get an email, which was sent round to everyone in the Court, from the post clerk. "Could whoever did this" -- and there was a photograph of an envelope I'd addressed to Helen in Norway, sending her my change of address card -- "please be careful in future. This was very nearly missed. Air mail must be clearly marked as such."

Coming down back into the open plan office, where every error is public, I was hot with shame. By the way she muted her normally perky chatter as she spoke to me, I knew that one of my colleagues had recognised my handwriting and had reported it.

I bade as cheery a good afternoon to everyone as my reddened face would allow, and resigned by text the following morning. I sent a separate message to my manager. "I'm terribly sorry for the inconvenience this has...", then re-wrote it as "...I have caused." She was magnanimous. "It's alright, just as long as you are OK. Feel free to ring me for a chat."

But I wasn't going back, the photograph of the fraudster's envelope having been circulated as courtly samizdat.

It felt liberating, and as for work, there's plenty of cleaning shifts at the hospital, and I'm still working at The Big House. It's a liberation. Lettergate only hastened a decision to leave which I had planned anyway. I only wish my colleague who had found me out had just had a quiet word with me, instead of betraying me.

My family have been so pleased for me becoming a civil servant, which they see as an elevation into a respectable and ordered class, that I haven't told them that I'm back scrubbing toilets -- for an hourly rate inferior by ten pence.

On my first shift back at the hospital, as I was cleaning a sink, a patient said to me "this canula's still leaking." "Oh right OK, I'll tell a nurse." "Oh, sorry, I didn't realise you were a domestic." No, neither did I.

Me and Mel went to the new flat. We bumped into some of the other denizens of the block, all maskless. "Can I introduce myself? My name's looby and this is my girlfriend Mel." Nods and smiles all round. We stood about while Billie, perhaps the unofficial concierge, told us of the improvised social programme now that the landlord has forbidden us from using the capacious communal lounge. Those that like society meet up on Wednesday afternoons where the corridor turns a right angle outside her flat.

"We do a raffle and have a cup of tea and a biscuit. If you want to join in you can buy something yourself or you can give me a fiver and I'll get the prizes." I wondered about the "cup of tea", suspecting that the odd small sherry might form part of our games of chance.

Pleased at the opening account we gave of ourselves, we left them to go to the flat, where we ordered pizza and a bottle of wine. There being no carpets, nor a bed, Mel had to stand up to get her dessert.

But at the moment, I'm still sharing a house with Cath, who was enthused by reading the other day that people in our sub-postcode are encouraged to do "surge testing" -- so under her cosh, yet another bit of retching on a twisting cotton bud, cooking up her anxiety catnip for her, fuel for her evangelism of worry.


A stranger gives me a new drug

  Sat 30th January 2021

On Sunday I was released from isolation. I felt a prisoner not of the virus but of Cath, who kept me in despite her taking us up to the local rugby club, getting tested, and both of us being negative. "But it's the incubation period," she argued.

I want to keep things sweet with her because I'm moving out soon, but seeing last Saturday's sun, brilliant on the snow, made me rock and pace like a lunatic confined. I'm reading a book about the history of corridors and the loony bin plays a big part in the way that corridors have become somewhat menacing spaces in our imaginations. By the end I was thinking "I'll be down the funny farm soon."

Mel came along with me to see the flat I've been offered. I'd been sent instructions about how to get the "key", a retro-fitted name for some sort of electronic device shaped like a huge teardrop. We stood fiddling with the key's lock box outside. A bus driver and two residents inside watched us through the glass-pannelled door as I tapped the fob ineffectually on various rectangular surfaces.

Eventually one of them let us in. I explained ourselves to the trio and we were pointed upstairs to what will soon be my flat. It was institutional, beige, with dilute cigarette smoke following us. The flat next door had a black and yellow sticker on its door warning that CCTV was in operation.

The flat's small, no separate bedroom, but with a cosy and worktop-rich kitchen. The floor is laid with some sort of composite panelling, and whatever you call the things that run round the perimeter of a room with tacks sticking up from them, that receive carpets. I've got various tatty bits of recycled carpet that might do in the short term.

Standing in the window, we held each other still, no stroking or effort to please, or to translate anything into movement. She was insulated thickly, but with my arms clasped round her, I knew what is underneath. "Don't just see it as a shag pad though looby. You've got to live here too."

On leaving, we had to ask to get through a crowd of people. I thought for a moment it must be a residents' meeting forced outside, but then I saw a wreath to "Gran".

I went round to Hayley's and met the man she's currently toying with. He walked in apologising for the smell of tarmac, him being a road worker. I said not to worry and that I don't mind a bit of solvent abuse myself. We got on well. He was a chatty Traveller with some enthrallingly horrible anecdotes of neglect and abuse from his mum, which he had the grace to turn away from quickly.

Hayley was tendentiously distancing herself from her boyfriend, criticising him in his absence in a way I found awkward. After Mr Tarmac had left, she was talking about the unexciting sex she has with K. "I feel like I'm on an extended German exchange trip."

She texted as I was on the bus. "He's nice isn't he? Needs grooming, but a bit more interesting than K." True, his hair was a mess, but I don't think that's what she meant.

I had a new drug last week, one which didn't even exist a year ago. ((4-hydroxybuytl)azaediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldeanoate) won't give you anything more than a stiff arm for a day or so, but together with a couple of other chemical sesquipedalia, it'll protect you against a novel communicable disease. I got it early by virtue of still being registered as a casual cleaner with the NHS. I'm doing a night shift tonight, as I'll be paying two lots of rent for a short time.

I rang Trina. Relations are cordial at last. I asked her if she'd mind witnessing my will if I posted it to her. I could have asked Mel and Hayley to do it down here, but I thought it might please Trina to be entrusted with the task.

A minute or so after we'd finished talking, she rang me back. "It was just to say, I love you, and I think I always will."


Bring out your dead

  Sat 16th January 2021

On the bus on the way home from work on Thursday, I get a text from Cath. "You're not going to work tomorrow! Ha!"

I assumed that there had been another slalom in government policy and that those of us whose lives are very boring because we're office clerks had been indefinitely released from our bondage. When I got home it was revealed that Cath's daughter had tested positive for the lurgy. Cath immediately placed us all under house arrest, her mood brightened by the thought of wiping everything all the time. Inwardly I was wailing for beer.

Work said they'd sort some online homework for me next week, but yesterday was bliss: I was put on "special leave".

And I had news of my own. I have been offered a tenancy in a housing association studio flat for which I just qualify by reason of my age: it's in an old folks' block safely equipped with grab rails. It crossed my mind that they might have removed a plague-struck corpse from the flat recently.

It has a huge communal room with wing-backed pink armchairs and bored plants. The neglected website advertises "bingo nights, a luncheon club, and outings," an attractive programme, in which I'd play around with that mildly suggestive banter that English old dears enjoy. It's in the close of a church, so I hope that Sundays are marked by ineptly rhythmned campanology. The most succulent pleasure there though, will be Mel, keeping me firm but supple.

After a year's probation, I will have a tenancy for life if I want it, and should I wish to move (it's a wee bit further from the city centre than I'd like to be ideally), I can seek a swap with any council or social landlord tenant in the country who'd like my flat. No more will I carry around, like a dormant virus, the insecurity that comes from relying on private landlords.

None of this solves the problem of how we are to escape our tenancy here five months early, but I imagine Cath to be a dogged negotiator, and she can now tell him that we have all found the exit.


Cath takes me by surprise

  Mon 11th January 2021

Mel and I went on an essential business trip on New Year's Eve, which required hotel accommodation. There were two receptionists on duty; fortunately we got the Spanish one, who was less searching in his questions than his English colleague, who was asking for proof that the man he was checking in was in Bristol for work.

We had a completely enjoyable eighteen hours together. Drunkenness, and the kind of unhard, laughing sex that alcohol can produce, then I woke her in the middle of the night with something more serious, which continued episodically till late morning.

"You're a funny one looby." "Am I?" "Yes, all the clothes and shoes and rape fantasies." I thought "rape fantasy" was a bit of an overstatement but lit up at the casual, permissive way she said the phrase. "I didn't expect any of this from you."

Saturday morning and Cath is chatty as I make my coffee. She tells me that her and Ingrid are interested in a shared ownership flat which they want to buy. She will have to persuade the landlord to terminate our lease five months early, but should that be granted I'd have to start looking for a place around the end of March. I'd love to find somewhere self-contained if at all possible, and make a love nest where I can indulge my "rape fantasies" with a willing subject.

I discuss it with Mel, all the practical obstacles conjured away by a deus ex machina, gabbling on about the food I'd like to make for her, the films we could watch together, and of course, the sex we could have.

I was in a card shop on Saturday. Good-looking fortysomething running it, in a scarlet dress, reaching just below the thigh.

I was picking up some cards and reading them and she came up to me and she said "sorry sir, but could you only touch things you'd like to buy?"

This cheered me up a great deal. It really did look like a card shop.


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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
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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
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Sequenza 21
Sound and Music
Talking Musicology defunct, but retained

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