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The Double Life of Looby

  Mon 9th August 2010

I lead a double life, where I have to negotiate the way I get my money with the way I present myself. I sign on, and every fortnight tell myself as I walk in "don't mention the MA". You're not allowed to study whilst you're on the dole, apart from courses which last "up to two weeks" which "may help you with finding work" such as "developing your numeracy and literacy skills". They've got a point: I see neither my MA nor my forthcoming PhD in vocational terms.

I don't declare the odd tiny amount of arty money that comes my way. Partly this is because, despite being in the lowest income decile in the country, I would pay a marginal tax rate on it which far exceeds that paid by Bob Diamond on his final million; but mainly because of nerve-wracking bureaucratic grind as they stop your money, then (perhaps) reinstate it after you've lived on air for several weeks, racking up unpaid direct debit and snotty letter fees. To most people, I imply I get paid for my work with the academic journal. It's an easy lie to tell. Middle class people are fearful of talking about money, so they never pursue it.

Twelve years ago I was getting 24K as a signalman and there's no reason why, with a modicum of co-operation with my employers, I shouldn't be on 40, 50K now. But the salary was totally inadequate compensation for the loneliness I felt in London, so I took a large pay cut and came back to Lancaster.

Since being made redundant and going back to university, I am much happier. I have one remaining credit card on which the amount of available credit almost exactly matches my first year's PhD fees at Leeds. I've got a much better and more involved relationship with Kirsty and the children, and I never wake up sighing and saying "fuck", which was often my first word in the morning when I worked with a hyperbolically inflated title whilst sitting in a callcentre with a headset on deflecting complaints which arose from the greed of the firm's owner.

Neither Felicity nor Frances want to "see" me any more. It's Felicity I occasionally miss, her sexual straightforwardness, our mutual selfishness, her drunken acceptance of the bargain we entered into which we knew fell short of both our hopes, and the way she's maturely handled the transition from lovers to friends.

She and I are going to a foodie festival on Saturday. It's explicitly designed as a test to see if friendship will work. I hope it does.

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

M / 60 / 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
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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
Infomaniac [NSFW]
The Joy of Bex
Laudator Temporis Acti
Leeds's Singing Organ-Grinder
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Strange Flowers
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"Just sit still and listen" - woman to teenage girl at Elliott Carter weekend, London 2006

Bristol New Music
Desiring Progress Collection of links only
The Rambler
Resonance FM
Sequenza 21
Sound and Music
Talking Musicology defunct, but retained

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